written by | April 20, 2022

Write-off: Definition, Examples and How It Works

What exactly is a write-off? A write-off is a word used in accountancy to describe the process of lowering the valuation while incurring losses in a liabilities column. Enterprises trying to account for overdue loan commitments, overdue invoices, or expenditures on held goods use the terminology metaphorically. Write-offs, on either hand, assist in reducing a firm's annual tax burden.

For more information about write-offs, keep reading!

Did you know?

India's GST (Goods and Services Tax) went into effect on July 1, 2017. Even though GST was originally adapted in France, the GST concept is based on the Canadian model.

Write-off Meaning in Accountancy

Organisations use accountancy write-offs to keep a record of financial losses. Write-offs result in a credit line to the relevant asset's value and a deduction to an expenditure account on a financial statement. After subtracting the earnings previously recorded, expenditures will be put in the cash flow statement. Underpaid financial institutions, losses on held goods, and delinquent invoices are common circumstances for firms' write-offs. Each one of these scenarios is described below:

1. Commercial loans that haven't been repaid: Banks and investors adopt the write-off approach because all the conventional collection methods have been explored. The non-performing loans provisions, a bank or cash account that handles debts and outstanding loans, may provide a detailed picture of write-offs. While credit losses assets anticipate existing debts, write-offs are the ultimate step in the process.

2. Damaged, misplaced, contaminated, or outdated stock: A firm might want to write off much of their inventories for various reasons, including theft, loss, ruined, or excess stock. On accounting records, writing off stock entails an expenditure deduction for the worth of useless goods and an inventory credit.

3. Unpaid accounts receivable: If a company is persuaded that a client will not repay the loans, it may also be required to write all that off. The negative to an overdue receivables accounts will also have to be classified as debt and a charge to receivables from customers on the trial balance.

Also Read: Profit and Loss Account & Statement

Tax Deduction vs Tax Credit

Tax credits, on either side, are a rupee-for-rupee reduction in taxes. Whereas a deduction is valued at a proportion of your taxable income, somewhere between 25% and 50%, tax credits are a straightforward tax decrease. If you had been to obtain a reward of ₹10,000, the refund would be worth ₹10,000 to you.

What Are the Advantages of a Tax Deduction?

Organisations and individuals can use a tax deduction to reduce their tax liability. A write-off is extremely helpful for you as a taxpayer since it lowers your tax liability. Small company reimbursements are a frequent technique for companies to compensate for revenue losses owing to costs.

To get the most out of tax deductions, keep records of them and document any operational expenses as they happen so you may discount them afterwards.

What Expenses Can Be Deducted as a Cost of Doing Business?

To be eligible for a tax credit, a firm's expenses must always be authorised by the Income Tax Department. Everything necessary is that these operational expenditures are incurred to keep the firm going.

1. Promotion and advertising

Marketing and promotional expenses are eligible for deduction. This might involve things such as:

  • Commissioning a graphic designer
  • Printing business cards or pamphlets
  • Buying advertising space on printed or electronic platforms
  • Buying gifts for clients
  • Releasing a new webpage
  • Conducting a Facebook ad
  • Funding a function

However, you cannot claim payments made to influence the government (lobbying) or to support election campaigns or rallies.

2. Depreciation 

When you buy equipment, machinery, or other financial assets, depreciation rules allow you to distribute the expense so that you'll utilise those over the years instead of subtracting the entire amount all at once.

3. Educational Expenses 

When educational fees contribute value to the enterprise and expand your knowledge, they are entirely exempted. The ITD will consider whether spending maintains or enhances abilities that are essential in your existing business when determining whether your course or program complies.

Please remember that any training expenditures which would prepare you for such a new vocation, or charges linked to training outside the scope of your firm, do not count as write-offs for your organisation.

4. Rental Expenses

You may subtract your mortgage payments as nothing more than operating costs if you lease a commercial property or equipment for your company.

Although if you've got a home office space, note that the mortgage you pay on your house is not deductible as a cost of doing business. Rental can be subtracted as part of regular office costs.

5. Salaries, wages paid for employee benefits

Remuneration, perks, or even paid vacations provided to workers are often tax exempted if they fulfil a few requirements:

  • The "employee" is neither a single operator, an associate, nor perhaps an LLC member.
  • The wage is fair, regular, and required.
  • The services that were actually provided.

6. Expenses for phone service

Internet and phone subscriptions might be deducted as operational costs if they are essential to your organisation.

You mustn't deduct the expense from your first line if you're using a telephone at home or using it purely for business. The expense of a second landline dedicated to your business, on the other hand, is reimbursed.

7. Expenses for travel

A journey must be routine, required, and away from your tax residence to count as corporate travel. Irrespective of wherever you reside, your taxable residence is the whole town or region wherein you operate. It would help if you got away from your usual tax residence for much more than a typical day's work, which necessitates sleeping or resting along the way.

Keeping up with the cost of each purchase, the dates of return/departure, the specifics of the journey (who you visited), the total distance log if you travelled in your car and the purpose of the visit.

8. Contributions to a charity

Charity donations are not deductible as a marketing expense for sole proprietorships, LLCs, or unions, but the company owner might well be eligible to receive the deductions on their personal income tax return. The gift must always be given to a registered charity to be eligible.

9. Expenditure for child and dependent care

You may well be allowed to claim the Kid and Dependent Care Credit if you hire somebody to look after your children or another dependent whilst you earn. To be eligible for the card, the recipient has to be a child (below the age of 13 years), a partner, or another dependent who seems to be mentally or physically incapable of taking care of themselves.

10. The cost of medical care

Further out medical bills, such as appointment co-pays and medicine prices, can be deducted in addition to health care premiums.

Also Read: Tax Deducted At Source For Business

What are Tax Credits?

Government subsidies cut down on the sum of money you owe. If you are eligible for just a ₹1,50,000 tax incentive and owe ₹3,00,000 in taxation, the credit can lower your tax payment by ₹1,50,000. The eligibility for a certain tax rebate is determined by several criteria, notably your salary and tax reporting status.

While taking advantage of tax incentives may result in a larger return, some incentives are non-refundable. This implies that even if the deduction lowers your tax burden to a negative figure, the balance cannot be utilised to boost your tax return. For example, if you get a ₹1,50,000 tax allowance but only owe ₹1,30,000 in taxes, the additional ₹20,000 will not be refunded.

What Is Best: Tax Credits or Tax Deductions?

Tax credits are often preferred over deductions since they lower the income tax individuals owe immediately. Your effective tax bracket determines the impact of the tax exemption on your tax obligation. 

For instance, while you're in the 10% tax rate, a ₹5,00,000 deduction will lower your net income by ₹50,000 (0.10 x 500,000 = ₹50,000).

If you're qualified with both a tax incentive and deductions for the same costs, calculating the figures might help you determine which would save you the most money in the upcoming tax season.

Differentiate Between Write-off vs Write-Down

If you already have investments that have grown too old or even have outlived their usefulness, you could choose to depreciate them on your payments. A write-down is identical to a write-off. Instead of fully nullifying the asset class value as in the latter technique, you can keep claiming certain tax deductions while lowering the amount of income tax that has to be paid upon that income statement with a write-off. If you decide whether it should write off or write down any stock losses, you'll need to know what each term means.

Writing Off Assets

You are squandering your valuables if you write everything off. You'll be informing the ITD that the item has lost its value somehow. This may be valid if your assets are losing money, and it's also possible that you're too ready to get rid of something which isn't doing well.

Make a list of the assets. In addition to writing down the assets, you must lower the item's estimated worth. This is frequently done when an over-graded item can no longer be sold at a higher cost, and the assets are depreciated in reselling it.


Write-offs, as discussed above, are something that is inevitable for all businesses. Still, the business should be efficient enough in its management to minimise the use of write-offs and avoid it on a regular basis. Even though, from the tax point of view, it is advantageous to the business, in the long run, it is still treated as a loss-making activity.

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Q: What counts as a write-off?


When calculating write-offs, you can include the following:

  • investment expenses
  • property and sales taxes
  • mortgage interest 
  • insurance premiums
  • charitable contributions
  • casualty losses
  • gambling losses
  • and a wide range of job-related expenses.

Q: What is a write-off in banking?


The loans which have been non-performing for 4 years (1 year as a 'substandard asset' and 3 years as a 'doubtful asset') are written off from the bank's balance sheet. Banks initially make provisions on such assets, and when the loan becomes irrecoverable, it's written off. This reduces the bank's taxable income.

Q: What is the effect of a write-off?


The effect of writing off a particular account is that the expenses on the profit/loss side will increase but will also decrease accounts receivable by the same amount on the balance sheet.

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