The difference between nominal accounts and real accounts

Below is an example of the closing out process for the temporary revenue account, expense accounts, and dividends account, all to the permanent retained earnings account. Because a nominal account holds transactions until the end of a fiscal year, nominal accounts are also called temporary accounts. A nominal account is a general ledger account that you close at the end of each accounting year. Basically, you store accounting transactions in a nominal account for one fiscal year. At the end of the fiscal year, you transfer the balances in the account to a permanent account. After the closing process, each nominal account starts the next accounting year with a balance of zero.

The closing process transfers their end-of-year balances from the nominal accounts to a permanent or real general ledger account. As a result, the nominal accounts are also referred to as temporary accounts. The closing process also means that each nominal account will start the next accounting year with a zero balance. Most of the nominal account balances are recorded in the income statement. Balances recorded on an income statement are related to accounts that have completed a business transaction, thus, there is no balance to carry forward.

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To record the transaction, you need to debit your Purchase account and credit your Cash account. That way, you debit the expense and credit what’s going out. Next, shift your $7,000 in expenses to your Income Summary account by debiting your Income Summary account $7,000 and crediting your Expenses account $7,000. First, shift your $25,000 in revenue for the period to your Income Summary account by debiting your Revenue account and crediting your Income Summary account.

  • This account is zeroed out and closed at the end of the accounting period, and its credit balance is transferred to another temporary account called income summary.
  • Depending on the structure of the company’s assets, the balance in a nominal account may be transferred to one or more permanent accounts.
  • The balances in incomes, expenses, gains and losses accounts are closed at the end of the accounting year and these are referred to as nominal accounts.
  • Nominal Accounts are short-term accounts that last for an accounting year while real accounts continue to exist in the following financial years as well.
  • A real account does not close at the end of a period or at the end of the accounting year.

With a sole proprietorship, this often means that the balance is moved into the owner’s equity account at the end of the business year. For corporations, there is a good chance that the nominal account balance will ultimately be transferred into what is known as a retained earnings account. One of the easiest ways to understand the nominal account is to consider it to be a mechanism for accounting for income and related expenses on a short-term basis. This is in contrast to what is known as balance sheet accounts. Accounts of this type are used to track assets, liabilities, and owner’s equity, and are sometimes identified as real accounts or permanent accounts.


Doing so resets the balances in the nominal accounts to zero, and prepares them to accept a new set of transactions in the next fiscal year. Nominal accounts are used to collect accounting transaction information for revenue, expense, gain, and loss transactions, all of which appear in the income statement. Thus, revenues from the sale of services, the cost of goods sold, and a loss on sale of an asset are all examples of the transactions that are recorded in nominal accounts. Depending on the structure of the company’s assets, the balance in a nominal account may be transferred to one or more permanent accounts.

What Is A Nominal Account?

A nominal account starts the next fiscal year with a zero balance, while a real account starts with the ending balance from the prior period. A nominal account is also known as a temporary account, while a real account is also known as a permanent account. To make recording transactions easier, you may also consider using accounting software to streamline processes. One way to identify what is a real account and what is a nominal account is to look at the amount of time that balances accumulate in the account. If the account started with a zero balance at the start of the fiscal year (assuming this is not the company’s first year in operation), then the account is likely a nominal account. If it carries a balance forward, it is probably a real account.

What is a nominal account in accounting?

The function of a nominal account is temporary in nature, effectively serving as a holding place for revenues and expenses until they are assigned to a permanent account. A nominal account is an account that is used during an accounting period to summarize the cash coming into the company and being paid out of the company for that time period. Nominal What Is A Nominal Account? accounts are reported on the income statement, which is the financial statement that tells how much money a company made or lost in a given time period. In a nutshell, nominal accounts are any revenue and expense accounts that a company has. The income statement accounts record and report the company’s revenues, expenses, gains, and losses.

What is the difference between nominal and real account?

The real accounts include all assets, all liabilities, and the two equity accounts, paid in capital and retained earnings. You notice that the real accounts are all of those accounts reported in the balance sheet. Nominal accounts, such as sales revenue and wage expense, are reset to zero at the end of each year.