Owners Drawings – Full Explanation With Examples

We have written a few articles on owners drawings, in particular dealing with interest charges and tax. In this article, we wanted to go into some more detail, provide a complete article on what drawings are, accounting for them, and show some examples of the typical transactions.

Definition of Owners Drawings – What Are They?

As we noted in our earlier articles, drawings are transactions withdrawing equity an owner has either previously put into the business or otherwise built up over time.

Of course, what often causes people confusion is the difference between making drawings from a business and, say, shareholder salary or dividends?

So let’s look at each of the main business structures first, just so the differences are clear.

Business Structures and Owners Drawings

Sole Traders

This is the simplest and the most common structure used for small businesses. There is no difference between the business and the business owner; they are not separate legal or tax entities. So this does make the accounting easier, particularly when it comes to the income tax side of things.

In the sole trader example, there are no dividends or salary transactions to be concerned about. There are no dividends as these solely relate to companies. And there are no salaries as one cannot claim an expense for payment to yourself (as you and the business are the same). Of course, you can pay salaries to an employee, but that is a separate tax entity to the business, i.e. you.

Now, you may wish to operate a drawings account in a sole trader set of books, in particular, if you are using a separate bank etc. (as you should). A drawings account would enable you to see what funds are being “built-up” in the business as it grows. It may also provide an effective tool for you later if you were to convert the business into a company structure and/or sell it to a third party. A drawings account would much more easily identify the payments to you.

A sole trader may also operate a capital and current account too. This again would provide an immaculate means of tracking the capital flows within the business, even with a sole trader structure. Please see below for a further explanation of capital and current accounts.

Partnerships

Like limited liability companies (below) and unlike sole traders discussed above, partnerships are normally governed by legislation. For example, in the UK, these structures are covered the Partnership Act of 1890, which defines a partnership as being:

“… the relation which subsists between persons carrying on a business in common with a view of profit” (s.1.1).

Because we are now generally dealing with a more complex business structure and perhaps the volume of transactions, partnerships will generally operate two different owner accounts, a capital account and a current account.

Capital Account

The purpose of the capital account is to provide a more permanent record of the pure capital flow of the business in respective of what each partner has introduced and withdrawn. This account would normally remain fixed with changes only being made as formal capital introductions or withdrawals are made – often relating to overall changes in the business’s capital structure; for example, a partner joins or leaves the business.

Current Account

Although not required but often used, there are also current accounts. Whereas the capital account is more “fixed” in nature, a current account enables the grouping of transactions such as interest charged or paid on capital, drawings of goods for own use, salaries or commissions paid to partners etc. So this is where we will expect to see owners drawings being recorded rather than through the capital account.

One can think of it as similar to using accumulated depreciation accounts (contra asset accounts) in dealing with the depreciation of fixed assets. You could run the depreciation figures through the asset account each year, but it is cleaner to do this in a separate accumulated depreciation account.

In the example section below, we’ll run through the different types of normal current account transactions to show you their impact upon a business and the journal entries involved.

Limited Liability Companies

We usually deal with closely held companies, i.e. those with only a few or often one shareholder. Many jurisdictions worldwide use the threshold of five or fewer shareholders controlling 50 per cent or more of the common stock of a company as their definition of these types of companies.

Like partnerships, you will often operate two separate accounts with shareholders or directors (very different roles, but often the same in small companies), capital and current accounts. The capital account provides a more fixed position of the capital brought in and taken out of the business by a shareholder. At the same time, the current account provides a more flexible record of other shareholder transactions taking place.

Examples of Owners Drawings

Now that we have worked through the most common ownership structures, it’s time to look at the most common drawings that owners in these businesses make. As we would normally put through drawings an owners current account, that is the one we will be using today.

We turn to ABC Ltd, our trusty example company used in our accounting tutorial series. As the debits and credits are very similar in what we are dealing with, we’ll stick to just using a company structure in the example. From this, you can easily apply the same entries to a sole trader or partnership accounting.

Listed below are the typical transactions you normally find running through current accounts. We will use Kevin as our shareholder example, one of five shareholders that own ABC Ltd (as an aside, this, of course, means in most jurisdictions ABC Ltd is a closely held company). The details we will be using are:

  1. the company has declared and paid a dividend of $100,000;
  2. Kevin also works at ABC Ltd and earns a management salary of $50,000;
  3. Kevin has a capital account balance of $150,000 and earns 5 per cent on this from the company (the company has paid-up capital of $1,000,000, being 1,000,000 $1 ordinary shares);
  4. Kevin’s current account was in debit (overdrawn) for part of the year, and for this the company charges 5 per cent per annum; and
  5. Kevin incurred approved business travel costs of $2,000 for which he was not reimbursed for.

Dividends Awarded and Paid

The payment of dividends has two parts to it. The first is the dividends need to be declared, i.e. they are approved by the board of directors for payment. And second, the dividends are then paid to shareholders. We’ll look at both of these for ABC Ltd.

As we listed above, the Board has approved a dividend of $100,000 to be paid across the five shareholders (based on their share ownership). Kevin has 150,000 $1 shares in the company. This makes his ownership 15 per cent of the total 1,000,000 shares. So Kevin is entitled to receive $15,000 of the $100,000 dividend.

DateAccount NameDebitCredit
March 31Dividends Declared$100,000
Dividends Payable$100,000

The debit to dividends declared is a temporary capital contra account (as opposed to, say, accumulated depreciation, which is a permanent asset contra account) put through retained earnings. While the credit to dividends payable raises the obligation (liability), the company now has.

DateAccount NameDebitCredit
March 31Dividends Payable$100,000
Shareholder Current Account – Kevin$15,000
Shareholder Current Accounts – Other$85,000

Our next journal entry moves the dividends payable liability to the shareholder’s respective current accounts. Each current account would be credited separately (as we have for Kevin), but we have grouped the other shareholders under “other” for simplicity.

DateAccount NameDebitCredit
April 15Shareholder Current Account – Kevin$15,000
Shareholder Current Accounts – Other$85,000
Bank$100,00

And the last entry for dividends is the payment transaction. This is a debit to current accounts and a credit to the bank. Remember, the dividend could also be in the form of more shares, and so the credit would be to issued share capital rather than the bank. You will also notice that the declaration and payment are generally not on the same date.

Salary and Commissions Earned

Kevin is earning $50,000 per annum at ABC Ltd as a management salary. Kevin is paid a monthly amount of $4,167 (0 dp), and we will assume a flat income tax rate of 20 per cent under a withholding income system.

Withholding tax for ABC to deduct from Kevin’s monthly salary is:

($50,000 x 20%) / 12 = $833 (0 dp)

Therefore Kevin’s net salary for July is $3,334 ($4,167 – $833).

DateAccount NameDebitCredit
July 28Management Salary$4,167
Wages and Salaries Income Tax Withheld$833
Shareholder Current Account – Kevin$3,334

The debit of $4,167 is to the management salary expense account. While the credit of $833 is to the withholding tax payable (liability) that ABC is due to pay to the local tax authority on Kevin’s behalf. And finally, the net $3,334 is the net salary credited to Kevin’s current account.

In our case, Kevin has agreed with ABC that he will draw down his whole salary for July. If Kevin doesn’t get paid out his full salary in a month, that credit remains in his current account to be used for later or perhaps to earn interest. However, for July, the journal entry would be:

DateAccount NameDebitCredit
July 28Shareholder Current Account – Kevin$3,334
Bank$3,334

The debit reduces the current account balance (i.e. what is owed to Kevin), while the credit to the bank reflects the payment of cash to Kevin by ABC Ltd.

Interest Earned on Capital Accounts

Each of the five shareholders earns 5 per cent interest on their capital account balances, compounded daily and credited annually. This interest is not credited to the capital accounts but rather added to the respective shareholder current accounts.

In Kevin’s case he had a steady balance of $150,000 invested in ABC Ltd over the financial reporting year. The calculations for his earnings would be:

(opening balance x (1 + interest rate / 365) ^ 365) – opening balance

($150,000 x (1 + 5% / 365) ^ 365) – $150,000 = $7,690

And for the total capital account balances held by the shareholders the figure would be:

($1,000,000 x (1 + 5% / 365) ^ 365) – $1,000,000 = $51,267

DateAccount NameDebitCredit
March 31Interest Expense $51,267
Shareholder Current Account – Kevin$7,690
Shareholder Current Accounts – Others$43,577

The debit is to the interest expense account for ABC Ltd, while the credit increases the current account balances to Kevin and the other four shareholders.

Interest Charged on Current Accounts

As we mentioned above, Kevin had a debit balance of $12,000 in his current account for part of the year (a total of 73 days). On any debit balances (i.e. overdrawn current accounts), ABC Ltd charges the shareholder 5 per cent compounded daily, debited annually. For Kevin, the calculation would be:

($12,000 x (1 + 5% / 365) ^ 73) – $12,000 = $121 (0 dp)

DateAccount NameDebitCredit
March 31Shareholder Current Account – Kevin$121
Interest Income$121

Kevin’s current account is reduced by $121 by the debit, while the interest being charged is income to the company, and the credit entry reflects this.

Expenses Incurred on Behalf of

The last owners drawings entry we want to cover today is for expenses incurred on behalf of the company by a shareholder. In Kevin’s case, he incurred some business travel costs that the company didn’t reimburse him for (but had agreed he could incur), and so this is credited to his current account. The journal for this would be:

DateAccount NameDebitCredit
Sept 15Business Travel Expenses$2,000
Shareholder Current Account – Kevin$2,000

As these were company-related business expenses for which ABC agreed to cover, a debit of $2,000 is created to reflect this expense in their accounts (for financial reporting and tax purposes). At the same time, the credit increases Kevin’s current account balance. This example may arise where the company may not cover the cash flow at the time of expenses and asks the employee to cover them. Or it could be Kevin knew his current account was going to be overdrawn and so perhaps agreed with the company he would cover these costs. This would enable Kevin to put the expenses on his personal credit (and earn his much loved frequent flyer miles) while “paying” the company back for his overdrawn current account.

Conclusion

We trust you have found this explanation of owners drawings helpful. A lot of material, looking at the three common business structures, capital and current accounts and finally examples of the different types of drawings that we can make. Your feedback is welcome, so please comment below, get in touch through the contact us page or raise a question through the ask a question section.

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