Accrued Income

The money a business has earned but not yet received.

Author: Hajira Khan
Hajira  Khan
Hajira Khan
Student, Pursuing CMA USA
Reviewed By: Matthew Retzloff
Matthew Retzloff
Matthew Retzloff
Investment Banking | Corporate Development

Matthew started his finance career working as an investment banking analyst for Falcon Capital Partners, a healthcare IT boutique, before moving on to work for Raymond James Financial, Inc in their specialty finance coverage group in Atlanta. Matthew then started in a role in corporate development at Babcock & Wilcox before moving to a corporate development associate role with Caesars Entertainment Corporation where he currently is. Matthew provides support to Caesars' M&A processes including evaluating inbound teasers/CIMs to identify possible acquisition targets, due diligence, constructing financial models, corporate valuation, and interacting with potential acquisition targets.

Matthew has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in German from University of North Carolina.

Last Updated:February 13, 2024

What Is Accrued Income?

Accrued income is the money a business has earned but not yet received. This income can come from investments made in another company.

This means the dollar amount of services rendered or goods provided hasn't yet been received by the organization. It is a part of accrual accounting, where income is earned even when it is not yet received.

Such transactions in the organizations are recorded when the goods are supplied, and services are rendered but before the cash payment.

Imagine you work at a pizza place. One day you deliver ten pizzas to a local office, and they promise to pay you in two weeks. Even though you haven’t received the payment yet, you will record the event as a sale.

This is usually termed a sale on account, meaning the purchase of goods and services was made on credit.

This is what accrued income is all about. You deserve payments after meeting your commitments, even if it’s still pending.

Accrued income is only used under the accrual accounting method; if a business uses the cash accounting method, then this type of income would not be listed because the cash method only lists income when it’s received and the business has a receipt for it.

If you’re a musician hired for a concert, and the organizers agree to pay you after the show, how you handle the income depends on your accounting method. 

With cash accounting - you wouldn’t record income until you received the payment. But, with accrued accounting - you’d record the income as soon as the performance is over, regardless of when you get paid.

Key Takeaways

  • Accrued income is the money a business has earned but not yet received. It is part of accrual accounting, recognizing income when earned, even if not yet received.
  • Unbilled income, a synonym, is the cash earned from investments not yet received. Accrued income usually comes from goods and services provided but not yet paid for.
  • Types include regular accrued earnings (earned but not received), accrued interest (earned interest, not received), accrued revenue (earned but unbilled or unpaid), accrued expenses (incurred but not paid), and accrued benefits (earned but not received).
  • Cash and accrual accounting differ in recognizing income and expenses based on when cash is received or earned.

Understanding Accrued Income

Accrued income is also known as “accrued revenue,” which is revenue earned that a business has earned but has yet to receive an invoice from its customer. 

Another word that some businesses use for accrued earnings is unbilled income. If a firm owns a mutual fund, the unbilled income is all the cash it has earned from its investments but has not yet received. 

Unbilled income is put under the assets in the balance sheet; it estimates what the firm will earn in the near future.

Most of the time, this income comes from goods and services the company has sold/ given to their customers, but the customer payment has not yet been obtained. This type of income is very similar to accrued revenue.

Deferred income is the opposite of unbilled income. This is when the business receives payment from its customers before selling its goods or services to them. This usually occurs when the customers make an advanced payment for something they will receive later.

This is akin to pre-paying for a highly anticipated video game or concert ticket- you’re handed over your money before receiving the actual product, expecting to receive it later.

Cash Vs. Accrual Accounting: How They Affect Accrual Income

Regarding accounting methods, businesses can choose between cash and accrual accounting. Each method has pros and cons, and how it affects accrual income is no exception. 

Here’s a breakdown of how cash and accrual accounting differ:

Cash Accounting Vs. Accrual Accounting
Aspect Cash Accounting Accrual Accounting
Definition  Income is recorded when cash is received, and expense is recorded when paid. Income is recorded when earned, and expense is recorded when incurred.
Timing Of Income Recorded when received. Recorded when earned.
Timing Of Expense Recorded when paid. Recorded when incurred.
Accrued Income Not recorded until received. Recorded when received, even if not yet received.
Accrued Expenses Not recorded until paid. Recorded when incurred, even if not yet paid.
Complexity Simple and straightforward. More complex and requires careful tracking and record-keeping.
GAAP Compliance Accepted for small businesses but not compliant with GAAP standards. Required for all businesses following GAAP standards.
IFRS Compliance Allowed but not commonly used, may require adjustments. Required for all businesses following IFRS standards.
Example  A lemonade stand records income when a customer pays for a cup of lemonade. A consulting firm records income when a project is completed, even if the client has not yet paid.

As you can perceive, accrual accounting identifies revenues and expenses when they are earned/ incurred, no matter when they are received or paid, and is more complex but GAAP compliant. Cash accounting is simpler but less precise/ GAAP compliant.

Grasping the distinction between cash and accrual accounting empowers businesses to make informed decisions regarding recording their financial transactions, including accrued revenue.


The use of accrued revenue can also impact a company’s tax liability. By deferring income recognition until received, businesses can reduce their taxable income and potentially pay less tax.

Accrued Income Vs. Accounts Receivable Vs. Prepaid Income Vs. Deferred Income

We’ll discuss some confusing accrual accounting concepts that can leave even the most experienced accountants scratching their heads. Fear not, because we’re here to help unravel some confusion surrounding unbilled income.

Accrued Income Vs. Accounts Receivable

Imagine you’re a freelancer who just finished a project for a client. You’ve completed the job and sent them the bill, but they still owe you money. The amount you’re owed is considered accounts receivable, meaning you’ve earned that income but haven’t received it yet.

On the other hand, unbilled income is income you’ve earned but haven’t billed or received payment for, like a retainer fee for services rendered over time.

Accrued Income Vs. Prepaid Income

Now, imagine you’re a music teacher who has been paid in advance for lessons that haven't been given yet. This is prepared income, as you’ve received payment before providing the service.

Unbilled income, however, is income you’ve earned but haven’t received payment for, like a commission for a real estate sale waiting on closing.

Accrued Income Vs. Deferred Income

Lastly, let’s say you’re a chef who just catered a wedding. The couple paid you in advance, but you haven’t provided the service yet. This is deferred income, as you’ve received payment before providing the service.

Unbilled income, however, is income you’ve earned but haven’t received payment for yet, like the funds you’re owed for a consulting project that hasn’t been completed.

Understanding these different accounting terms can be a bit confusing, but hopefully, this breakdown has helped you differentiate between accrued earnings, accounts receivables, repaid income, and deferred income. Don’t be intimidated by accounting jargon; it can all make sense with some explanation.


Despite its importance, accrued revenue is not without controversy. Some contend that the utilization of accrual accounting can facilitate companies in manipulating their financial reports and deceiving stakeholders.

Types of Accrued Earnings

If you are a freelancer, you know that your business’s success rests on getting paid for your hard work. But do you know the various types of accrued earnings and how they affect your business? 

Fear not; we’ll break down the diverse accrued earnings to simplify the concept.

  1. Regular Accrued Earnings: This type of accrued earnings refers to the income you’ve earned but haven’t received payment for yet.
    • For instance, if you run a content creation business and have completed a project for a client but haven’t noticed them yet, that’s regular accrued earnings.
  2. Accrued Interest: Accrued interest is the interest you’ve earned but haven’t received yet.
    • For example, if you have a savings account, the interest on your balance until it’s paid out is accrued interest.
  3. Accrued Revenue: Accrued revenue is the revenue you’ve earned but haven’t billed or received payment for yet. For instance, if you run an online store and ship to a customer but haven’t sent them an invoice, that’s Accrued revenue.
  4. Accrued Expenses: Accrued expenses refer to the expenses you’ve incurred but haven’t paid yet.
    • For instance, if you hire a virtual assistant for a project but haven’t paid them yet, that’s an accrued expense.
  5. Accrued Benefits: Accrued benefits are benefits you’ve earned but haven’t received yet.
    • For example, if you’re an employee who has worked for a company for a year but hasn’t received health benefits until your probation period is over, those are accrued benefits.

Understanding the different types of accrued earnings is important for managing your business’s finances. Knowing how to categorize your income and expenses can help track your business’s financial health and ensure you’re getting paid for your hard work.


Accrued revenue can be a lifesaver for businesses in industries like consulting, where payments may not come until after the work has been completed. Think of it like a cushion for your cash flows!

Businesses and Accrued Income

Have you ever wondered how businesses recognize revenue for services or products they haven’t been paid for yet? That’s where accrued earnings come in.

To record accrued earnings, businesses make an adjusting entry at the end of the accounting period. This entry recognizes the earned revenue that has not yet been received.

Visualize a scenario in which a company has offered its services to a customer or merchandise to a client but has not yet obtained payments for the same. The company can record this transaction as accrued income to reflect that the revenue has been earned even if it hasn’t been received yet.

So, how does a company record accrued earnings in its financial statements? Well, it involves making an adjusting entry at the end of the accounting period. This entry recognizes the revenue that has been earned but not yet received.

The journal entry for recording unbilled income involves debiting an accrued income account and crediting the revenue account. 

This increases the accrued income account by the same amount. Once the payment is received, the accrued earning is debited, and the cash account is credited to reflect the payment received.

Let us examine the scenario of ABC Inc. This consultancy organization has made a deal with a customer to provide services worth $12,000 for one year beginning from January 1st, 2023.

Despite having completed the consultancy services for the month of January 2023, ABC Inc. has not received the payment for their services as of January 31, 2023. The total amount of the services provided for January is $1,000 ($12,000/12).

To record this accrued earning, ABC Inc. will make the following journal entries:

Journal Entries for Accrued Earnings
Particulars Debit Credit
Accrued Income A/c $1,000  
Revenue A/c   $1000

This entry recognizes the $1,000 earned revenue for January, which has not yet been received. When ABC Inc. receives the payment from the client, it will make the following journal entry:

Journal Entry for Revenue Earned Received
Particulars Debit Credit
Cash A/c $1,000  
Accrued Income A/c   $1000

This entry reduces the accrued income account by $1,000 and records the cash received from the client. This ensures that the financial statements accurately reflect the payment received and that the accrued income account balance is reduced to zero.

In accounting terms, if the accrued earning is not collected, the company must write it off as a bad debt expense. 

This would involve making an adjustment entry to debit the bad debt expense a/c and credit the accrued income a/c. This reduces the accrued income a/c and recognizes the loss as a bad debt expense in the income statement.


Accrued earnings may seem complicated, but it’s a crucial financial concept that allows companies to track their earnings and manage their cash flow accurately. 

By understanding how unbilled income works, businesses can make informed financial decisions that help them achieve their goals.

Accrued revenue can have significant tax implications, and the IFRS Publication 538 offers detailed guidance for individuals and businesses looking to stay informed and compliant.

Researched and Authored by Hajira Khan | LinkedIn 

Reviewed and edited by Parul GuptaLinkedIn

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