Accounting For Gift Cards


To illustrate, assume that a company sells ten thousand gift cards with a redemption value of $50 each. Revenue cannot be recognized when sold because the earning process is not substantially complete. Rather, a liability (such as “unearned revenue” or “gift card liability”) is reported to indicate that the company has an obligation to the holder of the card.

What is the journal entry for depreciation?

The basic journal entry for depreciation is to debit the Depreciation Expense account (which appears in the income statement) and credit the Accumulated Depreciation account (which appears in the balance sheet as a contra account that reduces the amount of fixed assets).The SEC has not taken a public position on gift card accounting, except to advise that the staff does not view immediate recognition of any amount of revenue at the point of sale as consistent with the staff’s view of GAAP. The new standard guides organizations on how to report gift card activity on an income statement. It says companies should classify income from gift card sales and breakage income as sales revenue. For example, assume historically that $8,000 in gift cards are never used by their owners.

How To Handle Gift Cards In Your Accounting

GBQ is a tax, consulting and accounting firm operating out of Columbus, Cincinnati, Toledo and Indianapolis. Charles Owen Kile Jr., Ph.D., is a professor of accounting at Middle Tennessee State University. This quick guide walks you through the process of adding the Journal of Accountancy as a favorite news source in the News app from Apple.

How do I classify a Gift Card in Quickbooks?

Go to the Lists tab and select Chart of Accounts. From the Account drop-down, select New and choose Other Current Liability under the Account Type. Enter the Account Name example Gift Card. Click Save & close when done.Many retailers also restrict the use of gift cards to in-store use and do not permit gift card purchases through their online or catalog divisions. When gift cards are used as a gift, they generate marketing benefits by offering the retailer two customer contacts and two sales opportunities, as opposed to only one. Gift card transactions also generate incremental information that the company may be able to translate into additional future period sales through marketing and promotional efforts.The general rule in these situations is to first follow the escheatment laws of the state where the purchaser lives, if that information is on record. If the purchaser’s home state is unknown, or if that state does not escheat gift cards, the state where the business is incorporated can enforce its escheatment rules.

Gift Card Usage And Breakage

When a gift card is purchased, your company should not record revenue; instead, the purchase of the gift card is recorded as a liability because you have an obligation to provide services or goods at a later point in time. When the gift card is redeemed by the customer for services or goods, you reduce your company’s gift card liability and record revenue for the sale to the customer. The accounting for recording purchases and redemptions under the new standard is consistent with the accounting under the old standard. SEC Staff Accounting Bulletin no. 101 generally requires the transfer of product as a necessary condition for revenue to be recognized. When a retailer sells a gift card to a customer, the payment for a future purchase is received upfront, but transfer of merchandise is delayed at the consumer’s discretion. So, instead of recognizing actual revenue on the sale of gift cards, retailers record a deferred revenue liability on the balance sheet for the cash exchange until the gift card is redeemed.If a customer purchases a gift card and gives it to their friend as a gift, you can now direct your marketing to two people instead of one. They also provide a unique cash flow benefit to your businesses by delaying the exchange of goods in return for payments. When a customer purchases a gift card from you, you receive money from the customer but you haven’t provided a good or service yet. Because you haven’t provided anything in exchange for their money, this is a liability to your business.

accounting for gift cards

The company records the journal entries related to the redemption of the gift card and to the recognition of breakage income as shown in Exhibit 5. Henry’s Hotdogs sells gift cards redeemable at any of their seven restaurant locations. Henry’s Hotdogs consulted with the company’s unclaimed property specialist and determined that its gift cards are not subject to unclaimed property laws. The accounting team at Henry’s Hotdogs performs an analysis of historical gift card redemptions each year and determined that approximately 10% of their gift cards are not redeemed, representing expected breakage. Alternatively, your business should be aware of unclaimed property laws for your state.

Solved Journal Entry Worksheet Record The

Since gift cards are sold during the holiday shopping season and frequently redeemed during off-seasonal periods, businesses may then provide greater inventory smoothing than would otherwise be possible. Gift cards are sold for cash, are redeemable later, and are accounted for in accordance with ASC 606. The company cannot record revenue when the gift card is purchased since the company is obligated to provide service at a later date. Therefore, the income is deferred and recorded as an obligation until the customer redeems a gift card, service is provided, and contract terms are satisfied. When a gift card sale includes a promotional amount, for example, a $25 gift card is sold for $20, the company should record the promotion’s cash incentive portion of $5 as a reduction in the transaction price.

accounting for gift cards

The essential accounting for gift cards is for the issuer to initially record them as a liability, and then as sales after the card holders use the related funds. There are varying treatments for the residual balances in these cards, as noted below.

Journal Entry For Credit Purchase And Cash Purchase

When this happens, the issuing entity should reimburse the defrauded customers, which should be tracked by the accounting staff. What about the unused portions of gift cards, known in the industry as “breakage? ” Breakage results most commonly when the remaining value on the gift card is negligible, or when the owner loses it.Leaving this on the balance sheet indefinitely results in a perpetually growing liability, which doesn’t reflect reality. The seller has the cash, and after enough time has passed, it’s unlikely that the gift card owner will ever redeem it. For example, some analysts of Best Buy initially misread investor-sensitive sales and gross margin trends. Reducing SG&A expenses with gift card write-offs represents a more conservative approach, but seems conceptually flawed and potentially misleading, since the economic benefit does not originate from expense reduction measures. If the balance of the unredeemed cards is subject to full escheatment, the company is precluded from recording any breakage income.In this case, companies would be required to employ the new pronouncement while accounting for the fact that 60% of the breakage amount would be turned over to the state. In this case, the accounting is similar to Exhibit 5 with an adjustment for the amount of the unclaimed property the firm would be allowed to retain. Once redemption is deemed to be remote, revenue may be recognized even though no triggering event—such as an exchange transaction—has taken place. Instead, breakage income is earned as a result of nothing happening, in contrast to the proportionate method, which ties the recognition of breakage income to a specific triggering event—the gift card redemption.The EITF’s next meeting is scheduled for March 19, although it’s not certain that this issue will be discussed on that date. In comparison to the old way, the Company previously would recognize $50,000 in 20X3 (using a two-year inactivity policy). Therefore, the new standard has allowed Henry’s Hotdogs to recognize breakage income much sooner. Under the remote method, revenue is recognized when the likelihood of use becomes remote.Depending on the study, it appears that between 10% and 20% of all gift cards are not used. Once upon a time, giving gift cards wasn’t as respectable as buying an actual tangible gift, but today, they’re more popular than ever. Along with the popularity of gift cards come consumer complaints about restrictions on their use.If neither state escheats gift cards, the state of sale may step in and exercise its right of escheat. As a second example, assume a company borrows $100,000 from a bank at a 6 percent annual interest rate on December 1 with payment to be made in six months. At the end of that year, the company owes interest but only for one month, an amount that is recognized through the following adjusting entry. Accrued interest of $500 ($100,000 principal × 6 percent × 1/12 year) is reported as of December 31. Note that with interest, the liability and expense are recorded only when time has passed and not when the original amount was borrowed. Offering gift cards has proven an effective strategy for attracting new customers and driving sales, as they’ve become an increasingly popular purchase for consumers. According to the NRF’s 2016 Mother’s Day Spending Survey , 43.2 percent of Americans said they planned to give a gift card for the holiday, averaging $2.2 billion.Thirteen states now prohibit gift card expiration dates, according to’s 2006 Gift Card Study. Be the first to know when the JofA publishes breaking news about tax, financial reporting, auditing, or other topics. Select to receive all alerts or just ones for the topic that interest you most. After a specified period of time such as eighteen months or two years.Moreover, the timing of this adjustment is subject to manipulation and the amount can be substantial because it represents the accumulation of multiple years of breakage, rather than just one. The illustrations presented up to this point apply to situations where the company is allowed to keep the full amount of the unredeemed cards. While most states currently exempt gift cards from escheatment laws, a number of states have enacted abandoned property laws for unredeemed gift card balances, typically after a dormancy period of either three or five years.

  • The most common practice was to lump the liability into an “accrued expense or other liability.” Others included gift cards in a “deferred revenue” account.
  • The company cannot record revenue when the gift card is purchased since the company is obligated to provide service at a later date.
  • When the gift card is redeemed by the customer for services or goods, you reduce your company’s gift card liability and record revenue for the sale to the customer.
  • Gift cards are sold for cash, are redeemable later, and are accounted for in accordance with ASC 606.
  • A survey by Marketing Workshop Inc. found that only 30% of recipients use a gift card within a month.
  • The amount of goods returned to the company decline from what would be experienced with a gift purchase, since the card recipient knows exactly what he or she wants to buy.

The apparently material percentage of gift card value that goes unused creates additional accounting complications. (Consumer Reports estimated that 19% of the people who received a gift card in 2005 never used it.) For example, when does the non-event of the failure to redeem a gift card occur? For some gift cards, an expiration date may serve as an event for removing any unused amount from the lingering gift card liability. Some states have laws governing unclaimed property that regulate gift card breakage. The National Retail Federation said 2006 holiday sales of gift cards were $27.8 billion. Independent financial services research firms have estimated holiday gift card sales were as much as $75 billion. In fact, no one really knows the aggregate effect of gift card transactions because retailers rarely provide separate information on gift card sales and redemptions.

How Are Gift Cards Recorded In An Account?

The thing is you still have to account for the income when it is used. The amount of goods returned to the company decline from what would be experienced with a gift purchase, since the card recipient knows exactly what he or she wants to buy. Besides focusing on tax returns of all flavors, she’s worked on audits of governmental entities and not-for-profits, business valuations, and litigation support.“Many retailers operate in a very fast-paced, continuously growing environment,” said Alison LaChac, CPA, a former chief accountant with retailers Massimo Dutti USA and Zara USA. The updated standard introduces a new method to account for breakage income, tying the recognition of breakage income to the redemption of gift cards. This means recognizing breakage income in proportion to the value of actual gift card redemptions. Gift cards are a great way to attract new customers, increase your Company’s brand awareness and improve sales. Many gift cards are used in more than one visit by the consumer, and some gift cards never get used.