The financial accounting term receivables is used to describe the claims a company has against customers and others for the future collection of cash, goods, or services. Receivables are classified as an asset, and will appear on the company's balance sheet.
Receivables represent all of the debts owed to a company. This can include money owed by customers, as well as cash or other services owed by trade partners and suppliers. Money that is expected to be collected in 12 months or less is categorized as a current or short-term receivable, which is a current asset. All other debts are considered long-term, or noncurrent, receivables.
Within each of the above categories, this asset can be broken down into subcategories, including:
- Trade Receivables: those claims generated through normal business operation. This includes both accounts receivable (credit sales of goods and services to customers), as well as notes receivable (written promises to pay money owed at a future point, arising from sales of goods or services).
- Non-Trade Receivables: all others such as tax refunds, interest receivable, insurance claims, loans to employees, loans to subsidiaries, as well as notes receivable (written promises to pay money owed at a future point, arising from financing transactions).
If material in nature, non-trade receivables should appear as separate line items on the balance sheet, and need to be explained in the notes to the financial statements of the company.