What is Equity in Accounting? Explanation with Examples

What if I ask you “What is Equity in accounting?”. I’m expecting a simple answer. That would be something like “it is the net assets of a business”. But here in this article, sacred accounting is explaining a lot more than just the definition of equity. In addition, we are also answering some other commonly asked questions related to equity.

What is Equity in Accounting?

In accounting, equity (or owner’s equity) is the difference between the value of the assets and the value of the liabilities of something owned.


Net worth of a person or company computed by subtracting total liabilities from the total assets.

Equity in Accounting Equation:

Total Assets = (Total Liabilities + Owner’s Equity)

In the above equation, Equity can be represented as the net worth by subtracting liabilities from assets.

Examples of Owner’s Equity in Accounting Equation:

For-Example, a business having total assets of 30,000 and total liabilities of 7000 will have the following amount of equity:

Total Assets= (Total Liabilities + Owner’s Equity)

Putting values in equation:

300,000 = (30,000 + Owner’s Equity)

Subtract 30000 from both sides of the equation

300,000 – 30,000 = 30,000 + Owner’s equity – 30,000

Owner’s Equity = 270,000.

That is the net difference of Total Assets and Total Liabilities.

Definition of Equity in Accounting

What Affects Equity in Accounting?

Often referred to as a company’s net worth, the equity balance may be impacted by gains and losses from operations and investments, accounting changes and adjustments, the payout of cash dividends and other equity transactions.

The following transactions can change the Owner’s equity.

Revenue An increase in owner’s equity resulting from the operation of a business.
Expense A decrease in owner’s equity resulting from the operation of a business.
(Cash and Capital)
Assets taken out of a business for the owner’s personal use. It decreases owner’s equity.
Cash and Capital (Investment) The accounts affected when receiving cash from the owner as an investment. It increases Owner’s equity.
Cash and Capital (Revenue Account) The accounts affected when receiving cash from sales. It increases Owner’s equity.
Cash and Capital (Expense Account) The accounts affected when paying cash for an expense. It decreases Owner’s equity.
Transactions that can change Owner’s Equity

Shareholder’s Equity in Accounting

In case of a sole proprietorship, the equity of the business is called is called Owner’s equity.

While in case of a company or corporation, it is called Shareholders or Stockholders equity.

It is calculated as the capital given to a business by its shareholders, plus donated capital and earnings generated by the operation of the business, less any dividends issued.

Generally, stockholders’ equity is calculated as:

Share capital + Retained earnings – Treasury stock = Stockholders’ equity

Examples of stockholders’ equity accounts include:

Common Stock

This is the par value of common stock, which is usually $1 or less per share. In some states, par value may not be required at all.

Preferred Stock

A type of stock that typically pays fixed dividends. It is less risky than common stock.

Paid-in Capital in Excess of Par Value

This is the additional amount that shareholders paid for their shares, in excess of par value. The balance in this account usually substantially exceeds the amount in the common stock account.

Paid-in Capital from Treasury Stock

This account contains the amount paid to buy back shares from investors. The account balance is negative, and therefore offsets the other stockholders’ equity account balances.

Retained Earnings

This is the cumulative amount of profits and losses generated by the business, less any distributions to shareholders.

Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income, etc.

Equity Instrument    

An equity instrument refers to a document which serves as a legally applicable evidence of the ownership right in a firm, like a share certificate. Equity instruments are, generally, issued to company shareholders and are used to fund the business.

The equity instruments can be divided into numerous categories, Some of them are:

  • Common stock
  • Convertible debenture
  • Preferred stock
  • Depository receipt
  • Transferable Subscription Rights (TSR)

Book Value of Equity Vs Market value of Equity

The book value of equity is calculated as the difference between assets and liabilities on the company’s balance sheet.

It is computed as:

Total Assets – Total Liabilities


Share Capital + Retained Earnings

While the market value of equity is based on the current share price (if public) or a value that is determined by investors or valuation professionals.

Share Price * No of Shares

What is the definition of equity in Accounting?

The difference between the total assets and the total liabilities of something owned is called equity in accounting.

How To Calculate Equity in Accounting?

Equity can be calculated by subtracting total liabilities from total assets.
Equity = Total Assets – Total Liabilities

What are Stockholders Equity in Accounting?

Equity in case of a company or corporation is called Shareholders or Stockholders equity.

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