The trial balance format is a natural part of the bookkeeping process and crucial for a business to properly keep well-maintained books.
This is done after a pre-set period. For some businesses that might be a monthly thing, for some, it will be quarterly.
Almost all will have an annual trial balance, and it’s not unusual for a business to run their books so that there is a working trial balance monthly, quarterly, and annually.
This format involves pretty much a simple 2-column schedule. All the debit balances make up one column while all the credit balances make up the other.
The point is to make sure that all the debits equal all the credits, as they should if the books are properly kept and all the numbers properly recorded.
The trial balance will only be prepared by an accountant or bookkeeper after every single transaction during a given period have already been recorded.
One of the major features of a trial balance format is how simple it is, offering a lot of important information at a single glance.
Two columns mean this is easy to read because of a simple and clear layout.
Even the full system will have four columns: name, account #, credits, and debits. The main numbers are obviously under debit and credit.
This is a part of the bookkeeping process that focuses on active assets. Anything that has been disposed of during the year won’t be part of the final tally.
This is also the first potential red flag to let bookkeepers know if something is wrong.
If the credits don’t match the debits, it’s time to do dig deeper to figure out where the problems are.
A trial balance sheet is just one part of the bookkeeping process before setting up the final reports.
Each account’s ending balance is figured out, and this is a place where accountants get a really quick and easy glance.
This applies to each debit account, each credit account, and those consolidated numbers should, if everything works correctly, balance out.
If they don’t, this is a clear red flag that something is off.
The final numbers for accounts can be used by internal accountants to look at overall trends, compare their company to others in the industry, or mark certain accounts or expenses for a deeper examination if the numbers seem unusual.
That could indicate a problem or something more sinister like hidden money or fake numbers. Auditors and tax accountants also use trial balance sheets.
They use the numbers on this report to prepare quarterly and annual tax returns as well as a starting point for any internal or external based audit that needs to take place.
Many larger businesses or corporations use tax software that helps to automate the bookkeeping process.
That means that the trial balance sheet is often automatically figured out by the software which also flags any potential errors that a human bookkeeper should double check.
There are many different styles and formats of bookkeeping, and understanding each step will help you understand how it fits into the big picture.
These are important reports, and now you can understand where they fit in overall to the greater bookkeeping process.
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