USA Allowance for doubtful / bad debt expense / ytd writeoffs

Oct 16, 2020
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United States
On my company's income statement I see this (I am making up numbers):

bad debt expense is $900 out of which $600 is due to covid impact.

YTD writeoffs is $150.

Provision YTD on BS is $1500 and provision on 12/31 is $700.

Here is what I understand /don't understand from this:

1. where is this provision coming from ? are we just making a random number up?
2. provision is a contra asset to AR. My AR is actually a real number based on the invoice I sent out which havent been paid yet.
3. if we are making up a provision number, won't it be a potential area where we can "cook the books"?
4. change in the provision amount on balance sheet. initially we said $700 of AR will go bad on 12/31. today we say $1500 of AR will go bad. But the "basis" is different. Maybe on 12/31 we had $2000 of AR and out of that $700 we think will go bad. Today we may have $5000 of AR and we say $1500 will go bad. Does the $1500 current provision = $700 initial provision + any other amounts which we deem to also go bad between 12/31 and today?
5. why is the change in provision amount on BS showing up on IS as bad debt expense? what is the relationship between provision and bad debt expense? Looks to me like provision is a made up number on balance sheet. So now, the bad debt expense is also a made up number?

6. YTD writeoffs: is this another IS number? IS the YTD number of $150 correlated in any way to the initial or current provision amount or to the bad debt expense? Meaning - can we calculate YTD writeoff expense from the information I have ? Is it a calculation from existing numbers on IS or BS?

7. On income statement i see two expenses: writeoff of $150 and bad debt expense of $800. is there any double count of expenses? is one related to another.?

Thanks a lot!!!!!
FPAnewbie here.


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