What is the Difference Between Assets & Liabilities: Meaning & Types

What is the Difference Between Assets & Liabilities: Meaning & Types

Assets And Liabilities

We will talk about the assets and liabilities meaning, their types, and the significant differences between them in this article. Read it till the end to know in detail about assets and liabilities.

What Are Assets And Liabilities?


A resource can be termed an asset if it is held or controlled by a person, business, or government to reap financial rewards. You can operate your firm, offer products and services to consumers, and fulfill your financial commitments thanks to your assets. Business assets might be tangible, like furniture and real estate, or intangible, like your brand's goodwill and image.

Most corporate assets can be bought, sold, transferred, or used as collateral to increase profits or lower risks. Your business's size and type will significantly impact the resources you need to manage your assets. Most companies maintain an accurate asset register to keep track of their possessions.

In general, calculating the worth of assets involves adding up all obligations and stock ownership. As a result, it may be claimed that

Total assets = Liabilities (accounts payable) + Owner’s equity


Every debt a business has, whether current or future, is seen as a liability. A liability is a duty owed by an organization that will cost it future financial benefits over other people or organizations. A liability, such as debt, is an alternative to equity as a source of a company's funding. Some liabilities, such as accounts payable or income taxes payable, are essential for regular corporate operations.

A typical small business obligation is accounts payable or money owed to vendors. They are on the right side of a balance sheet. Any business has liabilities unless they only accept cash as payment. Cash includes both actual cash and payments made through a business bank account. The accounting equation requires that the total number of liabilities equal the difference between the total amount of assets and equity.

To expresses it in terms of equations-

Assets = Liabilities + Equity

Liabilities = Assets – Equity

What Are The Different Types Of Assets And Liabilities?


Classifying assets is vital to a business. You can generally categorize assets according to their Convertibility, Physical Existence, and Usage. 

Understanding a company's net working capital requires knowing which assets are current and fixed assets. Your ability to turn assets into cash determines which asset category they fall under.

  • Current assets - Assets quickly convertible into cash, and cash equivalents are known as current assets (typically within a year). Liquid assets are often referred to as current assets. These assets are quickly convertible into cash and have a shorter life cycle.
  • Fixed assets - Assets that cannot be quickly and easily converted into cash and cash equivalents are non-current or fixed assets. Non-current assets are not likely to be immediately converted into cash and are meant for long-term usage.

According to their physical traits, commercial assets can also be grouped into tangible and intangible assets. Knowing which assets are tangible and intangible in the case of a business in a high-risk sector aids in determining the solvency and risk of the enterprise. As a result, using this method, you can tell the difference between:

  • Tangible assets - Tangible assets comprise your company's material, financial, and physical resources. Assets with a physical existence that you can touch, feel, and see are, in essence, tangible assets.
  • Intangible assets - Intangible Assets don't have a physical form. They are resources that lack physical substance yet have apparent commercial value.

Depending on how they are used, corporate assets can alternatively be classified as operational or non-operating. Understanding the contribution of revenue from each asset and figuring out what proportion of a company's revenues come from its primary business activities depends on knowing which assets are operational and which are non-operating.

  • Operating Assets-Assets needed for a business's daily operations are known as operating assets. In other words, operating assets are employed to bring in money from a company's main lines of activity.
  • Non-Operating Assets-Non-operating assets can still make money even when they are not needed for regular business activities.


Similar to how assets are classified, liabilities can also be divided into groups based on the time frame within which the liability settlement occurs. Liabilities fall into the following major categories on the balance sheet:

  • Short-term liabilities - Short-term liabilities are any responsibilities or debts a company has that require settlement within a year. Keeping a careful eye on your current liabilities to ensure you have enough liquidity from your present assets is crucial. Proper record-keeping will help ensure that your company can pay its debts and fulfill its obligations.
  • Long-term liabilities –Long-term liabilities are another name for non-current obligations. They are any company's financial commitments that aren't due for more than a year. Businesses usually take on long-term debt to raise money to buy capital goods or engage in new capital projects. These could be pretty important for your company's long-term solvency and finance. Your company may face a solvency crisis if you cannot pay any of your non-current liabilities when they are due.
  • Contingent liabilities – Although they are not as frequently employed, contingent liabilities are the third most prevalent category on a balance sheet. Since they could happen, contingent liabilities are a bit different. Contingent liabilities often occur due to a responsibility being dependent on the result of a potential future occurrence. For instance, if your company is the target of a possible lawsuit, you could be held responsible if it is successful. However, your company will not be liable if the lawsuit is unsuccessful. Only if an obligation is likely to occur is it recognized as a contingent asset on your balance sheet. You can calculate the size of the ensuing liability when this happens.

What Are The Difference Between Assets And Liabilities?

Regarding a company's finances, assets and liabilities are listed on a balance sheet and effectively counterbalance one another. Liabilities are the debts that the corporation still has to pay; assets are what the company has.

Liabilities refer to a company's external dealings and transactions, whereas assets refer to the company's internal dealings and valuable assets. They have essentially opposite meanings.

Another critical distinction between assets and liabilities is that although liabilities reduce a company's net worth, assets add to it. In essence, assets are the items that a company owns and which increase the worth of the company. What the business owes, whether to workers, clients, or banks, is referred to as its liabilities. Additionally, if liabilities surpass assets, it can significantly negatively affect a corporation and impede growth.