So a numbering system was developed around the six types of accounts. The primary digit indicated the type of account. See the following schedule:
Assets – 1
Liabilities – 2
Equity – 3
Revenue – 4
Cost of Sales – 5
Expenses – 6
The minimum number of digits is four and often I’ve seen six digits. Read the digits from left to right. So let’s explore the second digit in this numbering system. I’m going to expand into assets for this explanation. Assets are divided into three major groups:
The second digit in this system identifies the particular group of assets as follows:
Assets – 1
Current Assets – 0 through 4
Fixed Assets – 5 through 7
Other Assets – 8 through 9
So to clarify, if you are identifying other assets, the first two digits of the account number would be either 18 or 19. In a well organized set-up the first two digits for other assets are tied to certain types of assets as described below:
18 – Non governmental investments or rights such as organizational costs, refinancing expenses, goodwill, purchased legal rights
19 – Governmental purchased rights such as patents, copyrights, licenses, branding, logo and judicial claims
Now let’s explore the third digit. Suppose a contractor purchased several lots and holds back one lot to build on in two years. This is a non governmental investment so it ends up in the 18 area. So let’s break this down further:
Assets – 1
Non Governmental Investments – 8
Organizational Costs – 1
Refinancing Expenses – 2
Physical Assets – 3 through 5
Private Legal Rights – 6
Goodwill – 7
Franchise Contract – 8
Other – 9
In the case of this lot the first three digits of its account number will be 183 to 185. Can it get more detailed?
Yes it can. The two following examples illustrate how the numbering system goes to the fourth digit.
Using the same contractor purchasing lots, he purchases three lots for future construction. One lot is located in a subdivision known as Cripple Creek and the other two are in a area identified as Governor’s Land. So how is the numbering system formatted?
Assets – 1
Non Governmental – 8
Land – 5
Cripple Creek – 2
Governor’s Land – 7
So the account number for the lot purchased in Cripple Creek is 1852 and the two lots in Governor’s Land are entered into account number 1857.
Another example uses refinancing of a real estate bond for an apartment complex in Missouri. Here is the existing the four digit structure:
Non Governmental – 8
Refinancing – 2
Missouri – 7
This business may have complexes in eight states representing digits 1 through 8 and the number 9 is simply left open for future use. Therefore the bond refinancing would be posted to account number 1827 which means asset, non-governmental, refinancing in Missouri.
This numbering structure exists throughout the entire chart of accounts. So let’s discuss practical application.
I have stated several times throughout these lessons, one of the most common mistakes bookkeepers make is having too many accounts. Think about this for a moment, with a four digit number you could literally end up with 9,999 accounts. For your average small business, this is more than enough. I have reviewed the account structure for operations with over $5,000,000 in revenue and they get by fine with less than 300 accounts. If your operation is doing less than $1,000,000 per year in sales, you should not have more than 100 accounts.
Once an operation gets to a sales volume of more than $10 Million you may consider expanding to a five digit numbering system. Most likely it will not be needed but it can be considered.
WITH SMALL BUSINESS USE A FOUR DIGIT ACCOUNT NUMBERING FORMAT.
To assist you in your set-up, the following identifies the first two digits for each of the six account types:
. 11 – Cash
. 12 – Accounts Receivable
. 13 – Inventory and Work in Process
. 14 – Other Current Assets such as prepaids
. 15 – Fixed Assets at cost
. 16 – Accumulated Depreciation
. 17 – Open
. 18 – Non Governmental Investments
. 19 – Governmental Investments
21 – Accounts Payable
22 – Credit Cards and Charge Accounts
23 – Taxes Due
24 – Lines of Credit
25 – Unearned Revenues Including Progress Billings
26 – Open
27 – Long-Term Debt Tied to Fixed Assets
28 – Long-Term Debt Unsecured
29 – Open
31 – Stock and Capital Paid in Excess
32 – Partnership Capital Accounts
33 – Open
34 – Open
35 – Retained Earnings
36 – Distributions/Dividends/Draws
37 – Open
38 – Open
39 – Open
41 – Sales
42 – Returns, Allowances, Discounts
43 – Open
44 – Specialized Sales such as service or contracted income
45 – Open
46 – Open
47 – Other Revenue
48 – Interest on Working Capital
49 – Open
Cost of Sales
51 – Prime Costs such as materials
52 – Prime Costs such as labor
53 – Prime Costs such as outside services (subcontractors)
54 – Prime Costs – Other
55 – Open
56 – Internal Costs Transferred to Cost of Sales (depreciation/amortization)
57 – Indirect Costs such as project management
58 – Open
59 – Open
61 – Administration Management Payroll
62 – Administration Office Staff Wages
63 – Administration Employee Benefits and Taxes
64 – Admin Training
65 – Admin Travel
66 – Open
67 – Open
68 – Open
69 – Open
70 – Facilities
71 – Insurance
72 – Taxes and Licenses
73 – Communications
74 – Open
75 – Office Operations
76 – Outside Services including professional
77 – Working Capital Costs such as banking and interest
78 – Depreciation and Amortization
79 – Open
In general, account numbers starting with an 8 or 9 are designed for other expenses and revenue which is explained in the next lesson.
Practical Application with QuickBooks
QuickBooks allows the bookkeeper to use the numbering system when setting up the chart of accounts. Click on ‘Lists‘, then ‘Chart of Accounts‘ and at the bottom, click on the word ‘Accounts‘. Hit ‘Add a New Account‘ or ‘Edit an Account‘. The account’s detail information card is displayed. Up in the right hand corner is the field to add an account number. Please try to adhere to the four digit numbering system.
Accountants use a numbering system to speed up the process of entering data into the journals and transferring information to the respective ledgers. The number system is tied to the six types of accounts for the first digit. The second digit refers to a more defined section of the type of account. The remaining digits provide flexibility in meeting the information needs of the respective business. Act on Knowledge.
If you have any comments or questions, e-mail me at dave (insert the usual ‘at’ symbol) businessecon.org. I would love to hear from you. If interested in my services as an accountant/consultant; click on ‘My Services‘ in the footer of this article.
If you found this article helpful, please consider a donation to the site. The donation button is just to the right. Even if you don’t make a contribution, I encourage you to read more articles on the website to help you become a better business entrepreneur.