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  • Writer's pictureJames Heinz

Exploring Bad Debt Examples for Precaution

Any business or individual needs to sustain financial stability by employing strategies for managing bad debts. Bad debt examples mainly refer to the money that cannot be recovered, usually due to nonpayment of a loan or credit given to anyone. 

Overdue debt can become a problem as it puts a lot of pressure on one’s balance, leads to negative cash flow, and affects financial security. Knowledge of bad debt is useful in preventing and controlling the effect that this cost has on the business.

There are two types of bad debts: commercial and non-commercial. Business bad debts result from business credit given to customers, while non-business bad debts entail borrowing from friends or relatives. Differentiating between these types is important as it determines how they should be managed, especially regarding the new taxation laws. 

That’s why it is important to understand how to deal with both can benefit your financial situation and guarantee a more stable economy. This article will explore various types of bad debt examples in the context of business and nonbusiness bad debts.

Business Bad Debt Examples

Business Bad Debt Examples

Understanding bad debt in business is key to keeping your company's finances on track. Here are some bad debt examples in business:

1. Loans made to clients that are not repaid

Suppose you have granted an advance to a client to cover part of his financial deficit in a particular period, and then the client fails to pay back the advance. This loan becomes a business bad debt.

2. Accounts receivable for services rendered but not paid

You have offered a service, perhaps sent a bill for it or even demanded it but when the time comes that the debtor is supposed to pay, nothing. Uncollected revenue turns into less recognized accounts receivable, disrupting your cash flow cycle and becoming a bad debt.

3. Business loan guarantees that become a liability

Loan guarantees are particularly risky if you’ve guaranteed a loan to another business and it fails to make payments on the loan, then you are left to cover the loan. If this obligation is not carefully managed, it may become a bad debt for your business.

4. Criteria for a debt to be considered a business bad debt

For an asset to be classified as a business bad debt, two conditions have to be met: firstly, the debt was made in the course of the business, and secondly, the business expected that the borrower would pay back the money. Also, you have to ensure that you have made certain efforts to collect the money before considering it a bad debt.

Here are some more criteria:

  • The debt must have been included in the business's taxable income in a prior year 

  • The debt must be wholly or partially uncollectible 

  • The business must have taken reasonable steps to collect the debt 

  • A related party must not owe the debt 

  • The debt must not be a nonbusiness debt, such as a personal loan

Nonbusiness Bad Debt Examples

Nonbusiness Bad Debt Examples

Its time to see some of the bad debt examples of nonbusiness cases.

1. Personal Loans to Friends or Family That Are Not Repaid

Suppose, you allow your friend or a member of your family to borrow money with the expectation that he or she is going to repay the amount but he or she fails. This type of non-recourse loan becomes a non-business worthless asset.

2. Criteria for a Debt to Be Considered Nonbusiness Bad Debt

Nonbusiness bad debt is a specific kind of bad debt that has certain characteristics for the debt to be classified as a nonbusiness bad debt, it has to be a genuine loan and not a gift. There should be an explicit understanding that the money has to be repaid, and if possible, this should be backed by a written document which is a promissory note.

3. Requirement for Nonbusiness Bad Debts to Be Completely Worthless for Deduction

In other words, for the deduction to be allowable, the debt must become right and true bad debt. This means that you cannot be able to make any profit no matter how small, and there is no way that someone can lose the money and make it back. The all-or-nothing principle doesn’t allow anything in between, and partial losses are not accepted.

4. How to Report Nonbusiness Bad Debts on Tax Returns

Nonbusiness bad debts are reported on IRS Form 8949 and Schedule D (Capital Gains and Losses). You can only deduct them as a short-term capital loss, regardless of how long you’ve held the debt.

Here are some steps that you can take to report nonbusiness bad debts on your tax return:

  • Claim the loss as a short-term capital loss on Form 8949 and Schedule D.

  • Provide a detailed statement describing the debt, the debtor, your efforts to collect, and why the debt is worthless.

  • You can deduct up to $3,000 of the nonbusiness bad debt loss against your other income, with any excess carried forward to future years.

Precautions to Avoid Bad Debt

Now that you have seen some bad debt examples, you should also know some ways to prevent getting into one. Here are some tips to avoid bad debt situations.

1. Conducting Due Diligence Before Extending Credit

It’s advisable to do your research before extending credit to anyone you deem worthy. It could be a client or a friend. Review their credit profile and request to be provided with references since the candidates should be financially responsible and always meet their obligations on rightful debts. It can also help to keep a lot of complications at bay later on.

2. Setting Clear Credit Terms and Conditions

Be clear with your credit terms. Indicate the duration of payment within which the payment should be completed, the interest rate to be charged for delayed payments and any consequences of failing to make the agreed payment on time. It is important to define relationships and their parameters so that the parties know what they can expect from each other and how trouble can be solved if it occurs.

3. Monitoring Outstanding Accounts Receivable Regularly

Learn when you should have your guard up on people who owe you money. Check your receivables, and do not allow too much time to elapse before seeking the balance from clients. That being said, it is much easier to try and get your money if you do it immediately as soon as the person is late with the payment.

4. Utilizing Collection Agencies as a Last Resort

However, if you cannot recover the debt in any of the ways described above, the last thing you should do is employ the services of a collection agency. They mostly deal with debt recovery. While using this method, make sure it is the last resort because it may worsen the relationship between the two parties, besides incurring some extra charges.

Tax Treatment of Bad Debts

1. Differences in deductions for business and nonbusiness bad debts

Business bad debts also rank as 100% allowable business expenses on your income, thus improving your tax efficiency. Business bad debts, on the other hand, can be completely written off in the year you incur them, thus lowering your taxes in a major way; nonbusiness bad debts, on the other hand, are only deductible as short-term capital losses, which means they have a much smaller effect in saving you money on taxes.

2. Documentation required for deducting bad debts on tax returns

If you want to deduce a bad debt, there are certain documents you will need to put in place. For business bad debts, it is necessary to maintain some records such as records of the underlying transaction, detailed attempts to recover the debt, and a reliable explanation of why the debt cannot be recovered. 

Nonbusiness bad debts should be stated items for which documentation of the underlying loan and confirmation that it has no value. Some important things to remember when applying for a deduction are that all documentation needs to be proper for the government to accept it.

3. How bad debt deductions affect gross income for tax purposes

When you make an expense through a process of deduction that eliminates a bad debt, you lower your gross income. You can decrease overall costs and increase cash flow by reducing business taxes. However, when it comes to individuals, it is not very enormous, but it still offers some form of tax relief when nonbusiness bad debts are deducted as capital losses.


Balancing bad debts is very important to every business, as it affects their financial health. One can and should learn how to predict and avoid situations when people owe you money. Now it is time to seize the significance of poor debts described above, including the actual unpaid loans to clients or personal borrowings made to our friends and relatives. Such scenarios make you wary because you can see the risks involved in a particular case.

A careful approach and the prevention of liabilities guarantee immunity in the financial sphere. Please remember that one should be very careful when it comes to bad debts and admit that it is critical to manage such debts responsibly to achieve and maintain financial stability in the long term.

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