A post dated check is a check on which the issuer has stated a date later than the current date. A post dated check is used in the following situations:
- Deliberate payment delay. The issuer does this in order to delay payment to the recipient, while the recipient may accept it simply because the check represents a firm date on which it will be able to deposit the check. This situation represents a risk to the check recipient, since the passage of time may result in there being no cash left in the issuer's bank account to be used to pay the amount listed on the check when it is eventually presented to the bank for payment.
- Collection method. The recipient may require the issuer to hand over a set of post dated checks to cover a series of future payments, which the recipient agrees to cash on the specified dates. This approach is used to improve the odds of being paid, especially when the issuer has little credit.
From the perspective of the check issuer, there should be no journal entry to record the reduction in cash until the date listed on the check. From the perspective of the recipient, there should be no entry to record the increase in cash until the date listed on the check. Thus, the date on the check effectively postpones the underlying accounting transaction.
For example, ABC International receives a $500 check payment from a customer for an unpaid invoice on April 30. The check is post dated to May 15. ABC should not record the cash receipt until May 15, nor should it reduce the related accounts receivable balance until May 15. Thus, the post dated check has no impact on the financial statements of ABC International until the date listed on the check.
Realistically, the recipient of a post dated check may never notice that the check has been post dated, and so will record and deposit it at once. The bank is also unlikely to notice the date on the check. In this situation, the check is considered a negotiable instrument, irrespective of the date, and it is likely that the recipient will receive cash from the bank prior to the date on the check. In such a situation, it is allowable for the check recipient to record a post dated check upon receipt of the check.
From the perspective of the payer, the best way to ensure that funds are not released early is to notify the bank not to release funds against this check any earlier than the date stated on the check.
Auditors do not like to see post dated checks, since it implies that the payer is short on cash, and is attempting to pay bills later than it should. If an auditor sees an ongoing pattern of check post dating, there would be an inclination to delve more deeply into company finances, and perhaps state a going concern issue in the audit opinion that accompanies the financial statements.