Which is Not a Temporary Account: Permanent vs Temporary

Temporary Account

Understanding the distinction between temporary and permanent accounts in business accounting is essential for bookkeeping during accounting periods. Temporary accounts, such as revenue, expenses, and withdrawals, are used to track bookkeeping transactions within a specific accounting period. These accounts help in recording and organizing financial activities, including the management of petty cash and monitoring cash flow. On the other hand, in business accounting, permanent accounts hold balances that carry over from one accounting period to another in the ongoing record of the accounting cycle. This contrast between the two types of accounts, business accounting and single accounting period, plays a crucial role in accurate financial reporting for the next accounting period and fiscal period.

Temporary accounts help measure profitability by recording revenue and expenses during a fiscal period. These accounts track the flow of cash and maintain the balance between income and expenses for a specific term. They provide insights into a company’s performance during a specific timeframe, including the term, cash, nominal accounts, and dividend account. In contrast, permanent accounts, including equity accounts and investments, offer a snapshot of a company’s overall financial health and its position on the balance sheet. These accounts provide a long-term answer for assessing a company’s cash flow and financial stability year after year.

By grasping the difference between temporary and permanent accounts, businesses can effectively record cash transactions and assess their financial position accurately. This understanding is crucial for maintaining a balanced cash balance throughout the year. Now let’s delve deeper into the concepts of nominal accounts and cash balance to gain a comprehensive understanding of their use, and determine which is not a temporary account.

Temporary Account

How to Identify Temporary Accounts in Accounting?

Temporary accounts are used to maintain balance in the world of accounting. They are typically found on the income statement or profit and loss statement, helping businesses track their revenue and expenses in their dividend account, while also maintaining permanent account balances and temporary account.

Examples of Temporary Accounts

Temporary accounts encompass various financial aspects of a business. Some common examples of permanent account balances include sales revenue, cost of goods sold, and operating expenses. These balances are not affected by the dividend account or temporary account. These accounts directly impact a company’s profitability during a specific accounting period. By monitoring these figures, businesses can gain insights into their financial performance, including the performance of their temporary accounts.

Zero Balances at the Start

One key characteristic that distinguishes temporary accounts from permanent ones is that they have zero balances at the start of each accounting period. Unlike permanent accounts which carry over balances from one period to another, temporary accounts are reset to zero at the beginning of each new reporting cycle. This feature allows for accurate tracking and assessment of financial performance within a specific timeframe using temporary accounts.

Importance of Identifying Temporary Accounts

Identifying temporary accounts is essential for closing them at the end of an accounting period. The closure involves transferring their balances to a permanent account called Retained Earnings or Owner’s Equity, depending on the type of organization. By doing so, companies can ensure accurate financial statements that reflect only relevant information for decision-making purposes, including the use of temporary accounts.

Proper identification also helps in determining profitability and assessing business operations effectively. Additionally, having a temporary account can further streamline these processes. Temporary accounts allow businesses to evaluate revenue sources, control costs by analyzing expenses, and make informed decisions based on accurate financial data.

Steps to Identify Temporary Accounts

To identify temporary accounts accurately, follow these steps:

  1. Review Temporary Account Income Statement: Begin by examining the temporary account income statement or profit and loss statement for any revenue or expense-related items.

  2. Look for Revenue Accounts: Identify sales revenue or any other income generated by your business operations.

  3. Identify Expense Accounts: Locate cost-related items such as cost of goods sold and operating expenses.

  4. Verify Zero Balances: Ensure that these accounts indeed have zero balances at the start of the accounting period.

By following these steps, you can confidently identify temporary accounts in your financial records.

The Difference Between Temporary and Permanent Accounts

In accounting, there are two main types of accounts: temporary accounts and permanent accounts. These accounts differ in their purpose and how they are handled over time.

Purpose of Temporary and Permanent Accounts

The main difference between temporary and permanent accounts lies in their purpose. Temporary accounts are used to track short-term financial activity within a specific period or time frame. They include revenue, expense, and dividend accounts. On the other hand, permanent accounts capture long-term information such as assets, liabilities, and equity. Permanent accounts are also known as real or balance sheet accounts.

Handling of Temporary and Permanent Accounts

Temporary accounts have a specific lifespan within an accounting period. At the end of each period, usually at the end of the fiscal year, these temporary accounts are closed out to zero balances. This process is called closing entries. Closing entries transfer the balances from temporary accounts to a designated account called Retained Earnings (for corporations) or Owner’s Equity (for sole proprietorships).

Permanent accounts, on the other hand, remain open indefinitely. Their balances carry forward from one accounting period to another without being reset to zero. This means that transactions affecting permanent accounts accumulate over time and contribute to the overall financial position of a company.

Examples of Temporary Accounts

To better understand temporary accounts, let’s look at some examples:

  • Revenue Accounts: These include sales revenue, service revenue, interest income, etc.

  • Expense Accounts: Examples include rent expense, utilities expense, salaries expense.

  • Dividend Account: This account records any dividends paid out to shareholders.

Temporary account balances provide valuable insights into a company’s performance during a specific period but do not reflect its overall financial position.

Examples of Permanent Accounts

Permanent or balance sheet accounts capture long-term information about a company’s assets, liabilities, and equity:

  • Asset Accounts: Examples include cash, inventory, property & equipment.

  • Liability Accounts: These include accounts payable, loans, and mortgages.

  • Equity Accounts: Owner’s equity or stockholders’ equity represents the ownership interest in a company.

Permanent account balances carry forward from one period to another. They provide a cumulative view of a company’s financial position over time in its account.

How to Close Temporary Accounts at the End of an Accounting Period?

To close temporary accounts, such as revenue and expense accounts, at the end of an accounting period, companies follow a specific process. This process ensures that only current-period transactions are included in financial statements and allows for an accurate assessment of profitability for each accounting period.

Transfer Balances to Retained Earnings or Owner’s Equity

The first step in closing temporary accounts is to transfer their balances to a permanent account called retained earnings or owner’s equity. This ensures that the revenue and expense balances from the previous period do not carry over into the new accounting period. By doing this, companies can maintain accurate records and separate the results of different periods in their account.

Debit Revenue and Expense Accounts

Closing entries involve debiting revenue and expense accounts. This means that the balances in these accounts are reduced to zero by transferring them to retained earnings or owner’s equity. Debiting these accounts reflects that they have been closed out for the current accounting period.

Credit Retained Earnings or Owner’s Equity

In addition to debiting revenue and expense accounts, companies need to credit retained earnings or owner’s equity. This step completes the closing process by ensuring that all temporary account balances are transferred out of those accounts into a permanent account. The credit entry represents an increase in the account of retained earnings or owner’s equity.

Accurate Assessment of Profitability

Closing temporary accounts is crucial for accurately assessing profitability for each accounting period. By closing out these accounts, companies can determine their net income or loss solely based on transactions occurring within that specific period. This information is essential for decision-making purposes, financial analysis, reporting to stakeholders, and managing the account.

Closing temporary accounts also helps maintain consistency in financial statements across different periods. It allows users to compare the performance of their financial account over time without being affected by prior periods’ results.

Examples of Temporary Accounts and Their Journal Entries

In the previous section, we learned about closing temporary accounts at the end of an accounting period. Now, let’s explore some examples of temporary accounts and their corresponding journal entries. Understanding these examples will help us grasp the concept of an account better.

Sales Revenue

To record sales revenue, we need to debit the sales revenue account and credit retained earnings or owner’s equity. This entry reflects the income generated from selling goods or services in an account.


  • Debit: Sales Revenue

  • Credit: Retained Earnings/Owner’s Equity

Cost of Goods Sold

We debit this account and credit retained earnings or owner’s equity. This entry represents the direct costs associated with producing or purchasing goods that were sold in the account.


  • Debit: Cost of Goods Sold

  • Credit: Retained Earnings/Owner’s Equity

Operating Expenses

Operating expenses include various costs incurred in running a business, such as salaries, rent, utilities, advertising expenses, and account. To record operating expenses, we debit the operating expenses account and credit retained earnings or owner’s equity.


  • Debit: Operating Expenses

  • Credit: Retained Earnings/Owner’s Equity

Interest Income

Interest income refers to the money earned from interest-bearing investments like bonds or savings accounts. To record interest income, we debit the interest income account and credit retained earnings or owner’s equity.


  • Debit: Interest Income

  • Credit: Retained Earnings/Owner’s Equity

Dividend Income

Dividend income represents the earnings received from owning shares in other companies in an account. When recording dividend income, we debit the dividend income account and credit retained earnings or owner’s equity.


  • Debit: Dividend Income

  • Credit: Retained Earnings/Owner’s Equity

These examples demonstrate how different types of transactions are recorded in temporary accounts. By following these journal entry practices, businesses can accurately track their financial performance and maintain proper accounting records.

It’s important to note that while these examples provide a general understanding of the journal entries for temporary accounts, specific situations may require different entries. It is crucial to consult accounting standards and regulations applicable to your jurisdiction for accurate recording of transactions.

Remember, the goal is to ensure that all revenues and expenses are properly accounted for before transferring the net income or loss to retained earnings or owner’s equity at the end of the accounting period. This process allows businesses to start each new period with a clean slate and accurate financial statements for their account.

Now that we have explored these examples in detail, let’s move on to the next section where we will delve into another aspect of accounting. Stay tuned!

How to Use Temporary Accounts for Budgeting and Planning?

Temporary accounts, which are not a temporary account, play a crucial role in providing valuable insights into revenue generation, expense control, and overall financial performance. Analyzing trends in temporary account balances can assist businesses in budgeting and forecasting future revenues and expenses.

By closely monitoring temporary accounts, companies can identify areas for cost reduction or revenue growth. This allows account holders to make informed decisions that contribute to the financial health of their account and the organization. Temporary accounts serve as a basis for setting realistic financial goals and making strategic business plans.

Insights into Revenue Generation

Temporary accounts provide a snapshot of the company’s revenue generation over a specific period. By analyzing these accounts, businesses can gain insights into their sales performance and identify any fluctuations or trends. This information is invaluable.

Expense Control

Temporary accounts also shed light on the company’s expenses during a given time frame. By carefully examining these accounts, businesses can identify areas where costs can be reduced or optimized. For example, if there is an upward trend in certain expense categories within your account, such as utilities or office supplies, it may indicate the need for cost-saving measures like negotiating better contracts or exploring alternative suppliers.

Financial Performance Evaluation

Analyzing temporary account balances enables businesses to evaluate their overall financial performance accurately. By comparing current account balances with historical account data, organizations can assess whether they are meeting their financial objectives or falling short. This evaluation helps management make data-driven decisions regarding resource allocation, investment opportunities, and account management.

Budgeting and Forecasting

Temporary accounts play a vital role in budgeting and forecasting processes. By analyzing revenue trends from these accounts, businesses can estimate future income streams more accurately. Similarly, evaluating expense patterns allows organizations to forecast future costs more effectively by taking into account the spending trends. These insights enable companies to create realistic budgets that align with their long-term objectives.

Identifying Growth Opportunities

Temporary account analysis can reveal potential growth opportunities for businesses. By examining revenue trends, companies can identify which products or services are performing well and which ones may require additional attention. This information helps organizations focus their resources on areas with the highest growth potential, driving overall financial success.

Temporary Accounts in Different Accounting Systems and Standards

Temporary accounts play a crucial role in the field of accounting, regardless of the specific accounting system being used. Whether it’s GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) or IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards), the concept of temporary accounts is universally applicable. While the names given to these accounts may vary, their purpose remains consistent – to accurately track and report financial information for a specific accounting period.

Understanding how temporary accounts are treated under different accounting standards is essential for businesses to ensure compliance with relevant regulations. Let’s explore this further:

Purpose of Temporary Accounts

Temporary accounts serve as an ongoing record of business transactions within a defined accounting period. These accounts capture revenue, expenses, gains, and losses incurred during that period. They provide valuable insights into a company’s financial performance and help generate accurate financial statements at the end of each accounting period.

Consistency Across Accounting Systems

Although the names assigned to temporary accounts may differ across various accounting systems, their fundamental purpose remains unchanged. For example, under GAAP, temporary accounts are often referred to as “income statement accounts” or “nominal accounts.” In contrast, IFRS commonly uses terms like “profit and loss statement” or “statement of comprehensive income.”

Key Temporary Accounts

Temporary accounts encompass various types that are vital for accurate financial reporting:

  1. Revenue Accounts: These track all incoming funds from sales or services provided by the business.

  2. Expense Accounts: These record costs incurred during normal business operations such as rent, salaries, utilities, etc.

  3. Gain/Loss Accounts: These capture any gains or losses resulting from non-operating activities like investments or asset disposals.

  4. Dividend Accounts: These keep track of dividends paid out to shareholders.

Treatment in Next Accounting Period

At the end of an accounting period, temporary account balances are transferred to permanent accounts through a process called closing entries. This ensures that the next accounting period starts with a clean slate. Revenue and expense accounts are closed to an account called “Income Summary,” while gains, losses, and dividend accounts are closed directly to retained earnings.

Importance for Financial Reporting

Temporary accounts play a crucial role in generating accurate financial statements such as the income statement, statement of retained earnings, and statement of comprehensive income. These statements provide valuable insights into a company’s financial health and assist stakeholders in making informed decisions.

Benefits and Challenges of Using Temporary Accounts

Temporary accounts play a crucial role in the world of accounting. They provide valuable insights into short-term financial performance, aid in decision-making processes, facilitate budgeting and planning efforts, and enable accurate financial reporting. However, there are also challenges associated with using temporary accounts that require careful attention to detail.

Benefits of Temporary Accounts

Temporary accounts offer several benefits that contribute to effective financial management:

  1. Clear Picture of Short-Term Financial Performance: Temporary accounts help businesses assess their short-term financial performance by tracking revenues, expenses, gains, and losses over a specific period. This allows companies to evaluate how well they are doing financially within a given timeframe.

  2. Aid in Decision-Making: By providing timely information about revenue and expense trends, temporary accounts assist in making informed decisions regarding resource allocation, cost-cutting measures, pricing strategies, and investment opportunities. These insights empower businesses to optimize their operations for greater profitability.

  3. Facilitate Budgeting and Planning: Temporary accounts allow organizations to develop accurate budgets based on historical data from previous periods. This helps them forecast revenue streams and anticipate potential expenses or cash flow fluctuations more effectively.

  4. Enable Accurate Financial Reporting: Temporary accounts are instrumental in preparing reliable financial statements such as income statements (also known as profit and loss statements). These statements summarize the revenues earned and expenses incurred during a specific period accurately.

Challenges of Using Temporary Accounts

While temporary accounts offer significant benefits, they also present some challenges that need careful consideration:

  1. Closing Accounts with Precision: At the end of an accounting period (typically monthly or annually), temporary accounts must be closed to start fresh for the next period. This process involves transferring balances from revenue and expense accounts to an account called “retained earnings.” Any errors made during this closing process could impact the accuracy of financial statements.

  2. Tracking Numerous Accounts: Depending on the size and complexity of a business, there can be numerous temporary accounts to monitor. This can become time-consuming and challenging, especially for businesses with multiple revenue streams or expense categories. Proper organization and record-keeping are essential to ensure all relevant accounts are tracked accurately.


Congratulations! You now have a solid understanding of temporary accounts in accounting. By distinguishing between temporary and permanent accounts, learning how to close temporary accounts, and exploring their various applications, you have gained valuable insights into the world of finance. Just like a skilled accountant who balances the books with precision, you can now navigate through these concepts confidently.

But don’t stop here! Take your knowledge to the next level by applying it in real-life scenarios. Use temporary accounts for budgeting and planning purposes, analyze their impact on different accounting systems and standards, and explore the benefits and challenges they bring. Remember, understanding temporary accounts is crucial for maintaining accurate financial records and making informed business decisions.


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By Kane Wilson

Kane Wilson, founder of this news website, is a seasoned news editor renowned for his analytical skills and meticulous approach to storytelling. His journey in journalism began as a local reporter, and he quickly climbed the ranks due to his talent for unearthing compelling stories. Kane completed his Master’s degree in Media Studies from Northwestern University and spent several years in broadcast journalism prior to co-founding this platform. His dedication to delivering unbiased news and ability to present complex issues in an easily digestible format make him an influential voice in the industry.

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