Understanding Equity on the Partnership Balance Sheet

The equity section of a business’s balance sheet is the most difficult part to understand. The accounts that make up that section vary depending on the type of entity in which the business is structured. In this article, let’s take a look at what the equity section looks like for companies that are organized as partnerships.

The Equity Section

As a reminder, the balance sheet has three major sections: assets, liabilities, and equity. The equity section focuses on the investments that the owners have in the business. For partners, it consists of their capital accounts. The section could look like this:

Partners’ Capital

Partner A Capital        $25,000

Partner B Capital        $25,000

Partner C Capital        $50,000

Each partner has their own Capital account within the equity section of the balance sheet. A partnership with 100 partners will have 100 capital accounts in the equity section. Computing the balance for each partner is where the work comes in.

A partner’s capital account balance is affected by numerous transactions throughout the year as well as current earnings, which are distributed to the partners based on their ownership percentages. Ownership rules and percentages are spelled out in the partnership agreement.

Items Affecting Partners’ Capital

To compute a partner’s capital account balance, here is the basic formula:

Balance at beginning of period
Plus Contributions
+/- Partner’s share of net income/loss
Less Withdrawals
= Balance at end of period

Contributions to capital includes money that the partner has given the partnership out of their personal assets. Withdrawals are the opposite: this is money that the partner has taken out of the partnership and used for their personal use.

Net income is a bit more involved, with two more steps. First, the sum of the entire partnership’s income and expense accounts must be calculated. This number should be the same number as net profit or loss on the partnership’s income statement, from the beginning of the year to your balance sheet date. Second, the net income must be divided up to calculate each partner’s share based on their ownership percentages. These amounts are then rolled into each partner’s capital accounts.

To make sure the partnership equity section is accurate, good recordkeeping is a must for the partnership as well as each of the individual partners. If we can help you understand more about your partnership, please reach out any time.

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