Accounts payable are created by the purchase of inventory or supplies. Accrued liabilities are those debts that grow gradually over time. All such liabilities must be recorded prior to the preparation of financial statements. In today’s retail world, many companies sell gift cards. Because a product or service must be provided to the holder of a gift card, the company has an obligation and a liability is reported. The liability is later reclassified as revenue when the card is redeemed because the earning process is substantially complete. Revenue should also be recorded when it becomes likely that redemption will never occur. This happens when cards are lost, stolen, or the customer has died or left the area. The company must ensure that revenue for such gift cards is not reported until an appropriate point in time.
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