Overview of the Discount Allowed and Discount Received
A discount allowed is when the seller of goods or services grants a payment discount to a buyer. This discount is frequently an early payment discount on credit sales, but it can also be for other reasons, such as a discount for paying cash up front, or for buying in high volume, or for buying during a promotion period when goods or services are offered at a reduced price. It may also apply to discounted purchases of specific goods that the seller is trying to eliminate from stock, perhaps to make way for new models.
A discount received is the reverse situation, where the buyer of goods or services is granted a discount by the seller. The examples just noted for a discount allowed also apply to a discount received.
Accounting for the Discount Allowed and Discount Received
When the seller allows a discount, this is recorded as a reduction of revenues, and is typically a debit to a contra revenue account. For example, the seller allows a $50 discount from the billed price of $1,000 in services that it has provided to a customer. The entry to record the receipt of cash from the customer is a debit of $950 to the cash account, a debit of $50 to the sales discount contra revenue account, and a $1,000 credit to the accounts receivable account. Thus, the net effect of the transaction is to reduce the amount of gross sales.
When the buyer receives a discount, this is recorded as a reduction in the expense (or asset) associated with the purchase, or in a separate account that tracks discounts. To continue with the last example from the perspective of the buyer, the buyer debits the accounts payable account for $1,000, credits the cash account for $950, and credits the early payment discounts account for $50. In many cases, it is easier not to recognize a discount received, if the resulting information is not used.