Equity type accounts

David Harrison davidharrisoncga at gmail.com
Fri Jun 24 18:36:53 EDT 2005

On 6/24/05, gnucash at madsteer.com <gnucash at madsteer.com> wrote:
> Can someone explain the equity type accounts?  

There are two basic types of equity accounts that most people have to
worry about.

The first is share equity.  This is the amount that you paid the
company for your shares.  If your business is not incorporated, or you
are using gnucash for personal finances, you won't have this type of

The second is retained earnings.  This account accumulates your
earnings and losses from prior years.  For example, if you had a net
income of $1,000 in 2002, and a net loss of $50 in 2003, your 2004
opening retained earnings would be $950 (1,000.00 - 50.00)

>The only account in there
> by default is "opening balances".  

If you started from day one, the "openind balances" account would be
zero.  Since you didn't start from day one, the opening balances
should represent the retained earnings from day one to the day that
you started keeping track.

>While this might accurately reflect my
> equity when I first built my current gnucash file and propigated the
> various accounts with opening balances, it really isn't accurate at all
> anymore.
> For example, I recently sold my truck and bought a van.  So when I built
> an asset account to reflect the value of my truck, there was an opening
> balance that is reflected in equity. 

When you purchase a vehicle, you normally credit (decrease) the bank
account and debit (increase) the asset account for your vehicle.  This
should cause no change in your equity.

> Now, I decreased that account to 0,
> by making a decrease to the Expense:Adjustement account. 

When you dispose of the truck (i'll assume for no proceeds, and assume
that you have not booked any amortization or depreciation), you credit
(decrease) the asset and debit (increase) expenses (loss on disposal
of assets).  This would cause equity to decrease by the cost of the

> Then I opened a
> new account for the van.  Equity noew reflects both the value of my truck
> and my van, due to the opening balances.

Again, the purchase of the van should have no effect on equity.  It
should be a credit (decrease) to the bank account, and a debit
(increase) to the asset account.
> What am I missing?  Should I have some other accounts of type equity? Am
> I making things confusing by having seperate asset accounts for each of my
> vehicles?

Having seperate accounts for each of the vehicles shouldn't make any
difference at all.

Hope this helps.

David Harrison, BAccS, CGA

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