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Encumbrance Accounting: Ensuring Financial Accuracy and Efficiency

encumbrance accounting example

Government agencies must navigate complex procurement processes and comply with various accounting regulations. Public sector organizations often operate with limited resources and face additional scrutiny from taxpayers and oversight bodies. Non-profit organizations must balance the need for financial transparency with donor expectations and reporting requirements. An encumbrance balance refers to restricted funds that have been set aside for known future expenses of a company. Encumbrance accounting helps companies track their budget and catch overspending in any category.

Money from the encumbrance account is moved into the appropriate account to pay the invoice, and accounts payable handles the vendor payment. The main currency used by the organization to conduct its operations is used when encumbering the items. In the second step, the items are unencumbered once they’ve been transferred to accounts payable. Pre-encumbrance accounting is also a critical part of financial planning and budgeting and should be done at the beginning of every fiscal year.

What is Encumbrance Accounting?

A credit note is a document which shows that the business enterprise has given the credit to the party to whom this document is sent in respect of any business transaction other than credit purchase. When a business enterprise receives back the goods sold earlier then it makes a credit note in favour of the purchaser showing that his account has been credited in the books of business enterprise. In this document, all details about the date and amount of transaction, the name of the party whose account is debited along with reason for debiting his account are mentioned. Receipt is an evidence of making the payment on account of any business transaction. This source document is prepared for showing the proof of giving any cash to the party (who receives the cash) on account of any business transaction.

The real estate agent will provide the buyer with a land search document that will have a list of any encumbrances. The term encumbrance covers a wide range of financial and non-financial claims on a property by parties other than the title-holder. Property owners may be encumbered some from exercising full—that is, unencumbered—control encumbrance accounting over their property. In some cases, the property can be repossessed by a creditor or seized by a government. Non-cash Vouchers are vouchers prepared for the transitions that do not involve in flow or out flow of cash. These are prepares when transitions such as credit sales, credit purchase etc are to be recorded.

Phase 2: Encumbrance (Obligation)

This helps improve transparency between departments and ensures every penny has been accounted for with a purchase. Encumbrance also enables you to take control of your finances and prevent fraud from occurring. Pre-encumbrances allow departments to further commit funds to facilitate financial management and are coded with balance type code PE.

  • Encumbrance also enables you to take control of your finances and prevent fraud from occurring.
  • This results in a credit of the invoice amount to the encumbrance account, reducing its balance.
  • An easement occurs when the property owner retains title to the land, but another entity also has the right to use the land for a specific reason.
  • An entry is made in the journal with a debit to the encumbrance account and transferred to the general ledger.
  • The money that has been set aside cannot be used for any other expenditures or transactions.
  • The concept is most commonly used in governmental accounting, where encumbrances are used to ensure that there will be sufficient cash available to pay for specific obligations.

The department will see a transaction that will appear under their Actuals (AC), separate from their Encumbrance (EX/IE/CE) debit/credit transactions. Internal Ecumbrances represent the commitment of funds generated by travel authorization documents and are coded with the balance type code IE. In government accounting, for instance, encumbrances are leveled against the relevant appropriation account and are often used when there are multi-year contracts in place. Paying the expense after the money has been encumbered doesn’t affect the amount of the appropriations. But, if the encumbrance amount has to be altered for any reason, that will either increase or decrease the appropriations account. The encumbrance is marketed in your organization’s accounts once you reserve the money.

Q: What tools are available for monitoring encumbrances?

Encumbrance journal entries and accounting are also sometimes called commitment accounting. This naming makes more sense when you realize that encumbrance enables budgetary control by recording money that is allocated for future projects, preventing over-expenditure of a budget. Encumbrance accounting primarily allows nonprofits and government organizations to record and monitor all future and planned expenses. Encumbrance accounting acts as a budgeting tool, resulting in more effective planning, allocating, and controlling their budgets. The companies track and analyze differences as favorable and unfavorable variances. As organizations strive for greater efficiency and accuracy in their financial management, encumbrance accounting systems and software will continue to evolve.

Judgment liens are secured against the assets of a defendant in a lawsuit. A mortgage is an obvious encumbrance; if a homeowner doesn’t keep up with mortgage payments, the lender has the right to foreclose on the property. Zoning laws and environmental restrictions are also examples of encumbrances.


By embracing these future trends, companies can optimize their encumbrance tracking processes, improve budget control, and make more informed financial decisions. There is a structure involved in encumbrance accounting that organizations can use to manage their financial commitments and ensure that funds are allocated, obligations are met, and expenses are accurately recorded. This method of accounting helps institutions set better budgets and control overspending and maverick spending.

  • When someone places an encumbrance on a company’s assets, it forms a financial obligation that the company must meet before using them for any other purposes.
  • Implementing encumbrance accounting requires careful planning and execution to accurately calculate and track encumbered amounts for future payment commitments.
  • You can review the cumulative funds available total only by selecting Year-to-Date Extended (or Project-to-Date) as the amount type.
  • It is essential for businesses to track future liabilities and ensure accurate financial reporting, budgeting, and analysis.
  • Our platform helps you simplify your AP and AR processes, eliminating manual errors and allowing for better tracking of your payments and vendors.
  • Using encumbrance entries can serve as a general planning tool and can predict cash outflow.
  • Below we look at another way to know how encumbrances differ from actual expenses.

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