Dividends Financial Accounting


However, companies can declare dividends whenever they want and are not limited in the number of annual declarations. They are not considered expenses, and they are not reported on the income statement. They are a distribution of the net income of a company and are not a cost of business operations. The board of directors then declares and distributes a 4 percent stock dividend.

Cash dividends become liabilities on the declaration date because they represent a formal obligation to distribute economic resources (assets) to shareholders. On the other hand, share dividends distribute additional shares, and because shares are part of equity and not an asset, share dividends do not become liabilities when declared. The number of shares outstanding has increased from the 60,000 shares prior to the distribution, to the 78,000 outstanding shares after the distribution.

  • The Dividends Payable account appears as a current liability on the balance sheet.
  • On the dividend payment date, the cash is paid out to shareholders to settle the liability to them, and the dividends payable account balance returns to zero.
  • Of course, the board of directors of the company usually needs to make the approval on the dividend payment before it can declare and make the dividend payment to the shareholders.
  • Only the owners of the 280,000 shares that are outstanding will receive this distribution.
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Note that dividends are distributed or paid only to shares of stock that are outstanding. Treasury shares are not outstanding, so no dividends are declared or distributed for these shares. Regardless of the type of dividend, the declaration always causes a decrease in the retained earnings account. In this case, the company ABC can record the $100,000 dividend declared on June 15 by debiting the $100,000 to the dividend declared account and crediting the same amount to the dividend payable account. In business, the company, as a corporation, may need to declare and pay dividends to its shareholders once or twice a year.


Chartered accountant Michael Brown is the founder and CEO of Double Entry Bookkeeping. He has worked as an accountant and consultant for more than 25 years and has built financial models for all types of industries. He has been the CFO or controller of both small and medium sized companies and has run small businesses of his own. He has been a manager and an auditor with Deloitte, a big 4 accountancy firm, and holds a degree from Loughborough University.

However, a high dividend payout ratio leads to low re-investment of profits in the business which could result in low capital growth for both the business and investor. A long term investor might be prepared to accept a lower dividend payout ratio in return for higher re-investment of profits and higher capital growth. This journal entry is to eliminate the dividend liabilities that the company has recorded on December 20, 2019, which is the declaration date of the dividend. Although, the duration between dividend declared and paid is usually not long, it is still important to make the two separate journal entries.

  • On that date the current liability account Dividends Payable is debited and the asset account Cash is credited.
  • Dividend income is usually presented in the other revenues section of the income statement.
  • The date of record determines which shareholders will receive the dividends.

This is the date that dividend payments are prepared and sent to shareholders who owned stock on the date of record. The related journal entry is a fulfillment of the obligation established on the declaration date; it reduces the Cash Dividends Payable account (with a debit) and the Cash account (with a credit). At the time dividends are declared, the board establishes a date of record and a date of payment.

Dividend declaration date

Accrued dividends influence a company’s working capital and gearing ratio, so it’s Important For companies to use proper accounting practices to record their liabilities. When the company makes a stock investment in another’s company, it may receive the dividend from the stock investment before it sells it back. Likewise, the company needs to properly make the journal entry for the dividend received based on whether it owns only a small portion or a large portion of shares. To see the effects on the balance sheet, it is helpful to compare the stockholders’ equity section of the balance sheet before and after the small stock dividend. This journal entry will reduce both total assets and total liabilities on the balance sheet by the same amount. Assuming there is no preferred stock issued, a business does not have to pay a dividend, the decision is up to the board of directors, who will decide based on the requirements of the business.

To illustrate, assume that the Hurley Corporation has one million shares of authorized common stock. To date, three hundred thousand of these shares have been issued but twenty thousand shares were recently bought back as treasury stock. Thus, 280,000 shares are presently outstanding, in the hands of investors. After some deliberations, the board of directors has decided to distribute a $1.00 cash dividend on each share of common stock.

Journal Entries for Dividends (Declaration and Payment)

However, the corporation does make a journal entry to record the issuance of a stock dividend although it creates no impact on either assets or liabilities. The retained earnings balance is decreased by the fair value of the shares issued while contributed capital (common stock and capital in excess of par value) are increased by the same amount. Such dividends—in full or in part—must be declared by the board of directors before paid. In some states, corporations can declare preferred stock dividends only if they have retained earnings (income that has been retained in the business) at least equal to the dividend declared. The debit to retained earnings reduces the company’s equity, and the credit to dividends payable creates a liability. The dividends payable account is a current liability, which means that it is expected to be paid within one year.

The ex-dividend date is the first day on which an investor is not entitled to the dividend. As the business does not have to pay a dividend, there is no liability until there is a dividend declared. As soon as the dividend has been declared, the liability needs to be recorded in the books of account as a dividend payable. These stock distributions are generally made as fractions paid per existing share.

Cash Dividend Journal Entry

Par value is changed to create a stock split but not for a stock dividend. Interestingly, stock splits have no reportable impact on financial statements but stock dividends do. The day on which the Hurley board of directors formally decides on the payment of this dividend is known as the date of declaration. Legally, this action creates a liability for the company that must be reported in the financial statements. Only the owners of the 280,000 shares that are outstanding will receive this distribution.

Both small and large stock dividends occur when a company distributes additional shares of stock to existing stockholders. In this case, the company can record the dividend declared by directly debiting the retained bookkeeping visalia earnings account and crediting the dividend payable account. The company can record the dividend declared with the journal entry of debiting the dividend declared account and crediting the dividend payable account.

Directly deduct retained earnings for dividends declared

These materials were downloaded from PwC’s Viewpoint (viewpoint.pwc.com) under license. PwC refers to the US member firm or one of its subsidiaries or affiliates, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors. Amy is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), having worked in the accounting industry for 14 years.

The date of record establishes who is entitled to receive a dividend; stockholders who own stock on the date of record are entitled to receive a dividend even if they sell it prior to the date of payment. Investors who purchase shares after the date of record but before the payment date are not entitled to receive dividends since they did not own the stock on the date of record. The date of payment is the date that payment is issued to the investor for the amount of the dividend declared.

Suppose a corporation currently has 100,000 common shares outstanding with a par value of $10. The transaction will reduce retained earnings $ 8 million and record payable $ 8 million. The dividend payout ratio is the ratio of dividends to net income, and represents the proportion of net income paid out to equity holders. On the date that the board of directors decides to pay a dividend, it will determine the amount to pay and the date on which payment will be made.