Assets reported on the balance sheet are either purchased by the company or generated through operations; they are financed, directly or indirectly, by the creditors and stockholders of the company. This fundamental accounting relationship provides the basis for recording all transactions in financial reporting and is expressed as the balance sheet equation:
Assets (A) = Liabilities (L) + Owners' equity (E)
This equation is the foundation for the double-entry bookkeeping system because there are two or more accounts affected by every transaction.
If the equation is rearranged:
Assets - Liabilities = Owners' equity
The above equation shows that the owners' equity is the residual claim of the owners. It is the amount left over after liabilities are deducted from assets.
Owners' equity at a given date can be further classified by its origin: capital provided by owners, and earnings retained in the business up to that date.
Owners' equity = Contributed capital + Retained earnings
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