Below we’ll describe some foundational accounting concepts and how they are modelled in PlatformGL.
Transactions in PlatformGL represent real-world transactions, like those found in bank accounts and credit cards. They have a date, amount, and description, and often include additional useful metadata that comes from banking and BaaS systems, such as merchant details.
Transactions are used to bridge between the world of payments and banking, and the world of accounting. Our API is designed to allow you to submit transactions in more or less raw format, and have us do the work of properly transforming this data into journal entries and line entries in your customer’s accounting.
Line entries are the most basic atomic unit of accounting.
Each line entry has an amount, a direction, and a ledger. The amount is the amount of value that is flowing into or out of a ledger. The direction can be either debit or credit.
Debits and credits are tricky, even for accounting experts, but you can generally think of them this way:
- Debit: A debit is a flow of value into a ledger.
- Credit: A credit is a flow of value out of a ledger.
A business cannot create or destroy money, only transfer it from one place to another. Therefore, the sum of credits in any set of line entries must equal the sum of debits. Debits = credits is one of the most foundational rules of accounting. PlatformGL has multiple safeguards to ensure this is true, so you don’t need to worry about violating this rule when using PlatformGL.
In PlatformGL, line entries cannot be created directly. Instead, they are created only as part of a journal entry. This is one of the built in safeguards.
Journal entries bundle line entries together into understandable flows of value between an origin and a destination.
Each individual journal entry enforces that the debit line entries sum to equal the credits line entries. This ensures that each individual journal entry is a closed system that tells the story of where a certain amount of value came from, and where it went.
Each journal entry consists of at least two line entries, but complex journal entries can have more than two line entries, as long as the sum of credits equal the sum of debits.
Keep in mind that journal entries record the flow of value, not just the flow of money. It is possible for a flow of value to occur without any money changing hands. For example, if a company makes a sale but the customer has not yet paid, the value of the transaction will generally be recorded on the date the invoice was issued, even though no payment has yet been made. Another example is depreciation: over time, equipment breaks down and becomes less valuable. The business will generally create a journal entry to record this loss of value, even though no money has changed hands. A journal entry that records a flow of value with no transfer of funds is called an accrual. Whereas a journal entry that records a flow of funds is often called a cash entry, regardless of whether the transaction was made electronically or with physical cash. Teal supports accounting for both cash and accrual entries.
Let’s take a look at some examples of common journal entries.
Example 1: Purchase of supplies from a credit card
|Ledger||Debit ($)||Credit ($)|
|Pluto Card *8575||50|
This is an example of one of the most simple and common types of journal entries. A purchase of $50 has been made for supplies from a credit card. Since the credit card is the source of the funds, there’s a $50 credit to the card. Since the destination of the funds was an external vendor for supplies, there’s a $50 debit to the supplies expense ledger. Since there is a flow of funds, this is a cash entry.
Example 2: Purchase of inventory without payment
|Account||Debit ($)||Credit ($)|
In this journal entry, $5,000 of inventory is being purchased, but the purchase invoice has not yet been paid. To represent the flow of value into the inventory account, it is debited with $5,000. Meanwhile, $5,000 is credited to the Accounts Payable ledger, to represent the liability that the company has to pay this invoice in the future. Note however that no money has yet changed hands, making this an accrual entry.
Example 3: Payment of salaries
|Account||Debit ($)||Credit ($)|
|Payroll taxes expense||15,000|
|Pluto Checking *3472||100,000|
This is an example of one of the most common types of complex journal entries: the bi-weekly payroll. The company transferred $100,000 out of their bank account to a payroll company to pay their employees, in a single lump sum. However, this single large transfer was meant to pay for not just salaries, but also the payroll taxes levied by the government. To represent this, the company debits the Salaries Expense ledger for $85,000, and the Payroll Taxes Expense ledger for $15,000, while entering a single credit for $100,000. Since there is a flow of funds, this is a cash entry.
Ledgers describe the purpose and location of funds and value. Ledgers can be one of five types: revenues, expenses, assets, liabilities, or equity.
- Revenues: Money earned from the company’s operating activities.
- Expenses: Costs incurred to generate revenues.
- Assets: Company-owned resources with future economic value, tangible or intangible.
- Liabilities: Financial obligations or debts of the company.
- Equity: The ownership interest in the company after deducting liabilities from assets.
Revenues and expenses relate to the company’s performance over a period, while assets, liabilities, and equity reflect the financial position at a given point. The type of the ledger is used to determine which financial statements the ledger appears on. For example, revenues and expenses appear on the income statement, while assets, liabilities, and equity appear on the balance sheet.
Ledgers are also commonly grouped into sub types that have similar characteristics and accounting treatment. For example, asset ledgers are commonly grouped into current assets and non-current asset subtypes. There isn’t a single “correct” set of ledger subtypes, and subtypes can vary based on accounting convention and preferences. Teal uses a commonly accepted convention for our defaults, but you have the ability to modify these based on your preferences.
Calculated totals are used to sum groups of ledgers and calculate other important metrics such as “Net Profit”. They are simply sums or substractions of ledger subtypes. Here are some examples:
- Total Current Assets = sum of legders with subtype
- Net Profit = sum of ledgers with type
revenueminus sum of ledgers with types
Chart of Accounts
A chart of accounts is the complete set of ledgers that belong to a business. A company’s chart of accounts typically reflects the unique structure of the business, and so there is no single standard. However, there are certain protocols that companies are expected to follow when filing their taxes with the IRS (or relevant body).