DEFINITION of 'Liability'

A company's legal debts or obligations that arise during the course of business operations. Liabilities are settled over time through the transfer of economic benefits including money, goods or services.


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Recorded on the balance sheet (right side), liabilities include loans, accounts payable, mortgages, deferred revenues and accrued expenses. Liabilities are a vital aspect of a company's operations because they are used to finance operations and pay for large expansions. They can also make transactions between businesses more efficient. For example, the outstanding money that a company owes to its suppliers would be considered a liability.

Outside of accounting and finance this term simply refers to any money or service that is currently owed to another party. One form of liability, for example, would be the property taxes that a homeowner owes to the municipal government.

Current liabilities are debts payable within one year, while long-term liabilities are debts payable over a longer period.

  1. Balance Sheet

    A financial statement that summarizes a company's assets, liabilities ...
  2. Surplus

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  3. Total Liabilities

    The aggregate of all debts an individual or company is liable ...
  4. Debt

    An amount of money borrowed by one party from another. Many corporations/individuals ...
  5. Contingent Liability

    A potential obligation that may be incurred depending on the ...
  6. Current Liabilities

    A company's debts or obligations that are due within one year. ...
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