AT&T Inc. (T)
Analysis of Bad Debts
High level of difficulty
Allowance for doubtful accounts receivable (bad debts) is a contra account which reduce the balance of the company’s gross accounts receivable.The relationship between the allowance and the balance in receivables should be relatively constant unless there is a change in the economy overall or a change in customer base.
Accounting Policy on Receivables
Allowance for Doubtful Accounts
AT&T records expense to maintain an allowance for doubtful accounts for estimated losses that result from the failure or inability of the customers to make required payments deemed collectible from the customer when the service was provided or product was delivered. When determining the allowance, AT&T considers the probability of recoverability of accounts receivable based on past experience, taking into account current collection trends as well as general economic factors, including bankruptcy rates. Credit risks are assessed based on historical write-offs, net of recoveries, as well as an analysis of the aged accounts receivable balances with allowances generally increasing as the receivable ages. Accounts receivable may be fully reserved for when specific collection issues are known to exist, such as catastrophes or pending bankruptcies.
Source: 10-K (filing date: 2019-02-20).
Allowance for Doubtful Accounts Receivable
|Dec 31, 2018||Dec 31, 2017||Dec 31, 2016||Dec 31, 2015||Dec 31, 2014|
|Selected Financial Data (US$ in millions)|
|Allowances for doubtful accounts|
|Accounts receivable, gross|
|Allowance as a percentage of accounts receivable, gross1|
1 Allowance as a percentage of accounts receivable, gross = 100 × Allowances for doubtful accounts ÷ Accounts receivable, gross
= 100 × ÷ =
|Allowance as a percentage of accounts receivable, gross||Allowance for doubtful accounts divided by the gross accounts receivable.||AT&T Inc.’s allowance as a percentage of accounts receivable, gross increased from 2016 to 2017 but then declined significantly from 2017 to 2018.|