All About SaaS Sales Commission Accounting under ASC 606

But those that use shorter periods have a more accurate picture of true amortized assets. And due to the nature of SaaS, three years is often enough time for the product to have evolved into something completely new. A different commission rate may apply if a certain target is reached. For example, the commission rate may be 2% of sales, but retroactively changes to 4% if the salesperson attains a certain quarterly sales goal. Sean Butner has been writing news articles, blog entries and feature pieces since 2005. His articles have appeared on the cover of “The Richland Sandstorm” and “The Palimpsest Files.” He is completing graduate coursework in accounting through Texas A&M University-Commerce.

For example, if a business pays commissions to sales staff based on the number of sales they make, this would be an operating expense. However, if the commissions are paid based on the profit generated from sales, this could be classified as a different category such as cost of goods sold or selling, general and administrative expenses. This process involves recognizing expenses for any fees paid to salespeople.

However, the classification of these sales will differ based on the company’s policies. Usually, commission expenses fall under selling expenses for companies. However, companies may also classify it as administrative or other operating expenses.

  • Under the cash basis of accounting, you should record a commission when it is paid, so there is a credit to the cash account and a debit to the commission expense account.
  • We’ve broken this down into three distinct phases of sales compensation planning timeline to make it more structured.
  • This completely alters the way you recognize commission expenses which is one of the biggest portions of CAC for your SaaS business.
  • Therefore, companies can record it using the following journal entries.

A selling expense account shown on the income statement in order to match this expense to the related sales. Sales teams and compensation administrators need to be connected and communicative with the accounting and audit teams. For starters, it’s important to document and standardise the processes within your organisation for dealing with sales commission accounting. You may be wondering why the ASC 606 regulation came to be in the first place because it seems to complicate the process of sales commission accounting. While it does complicate the process manually, you can utilise an automation solution to make it easy again. Along with the compliance impact, the regulation calls for those accounting for sales commissions to identify and track commissions with immense detail.

What is a Sales Commission?

For example, companies must record them under the matching and accrual principles. However, the process will differ for companies that have a primary operation other than earning commissions. Instead, they must classify it as other income in the income statement.

This sounds scary for SaaS companies because the sales commission impact is often more significant and requires a substantial amount of work than the revenue impact. Sales commission accounting becomes simple with an automation solution. The tool will be able to collect data from disparate systems, store data, and transform it into reports and easily understandable dashboards for users to access. Make sure that you have all the required data from sales and commissions. This data should answer questions regarding the sale itself, commission amount, amortisation schedule, expected life of the customer, etc. If more than one salesperson is involved in a sale, then the commission is split between them.

  • Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years.
  • However, companies may also choose to represent these expenses as a part of administrative or other expenses.
  • This model relies heavily on historical commissions data, as shown below.
  • This is because commissions are often based on the sales of products or services, and so can be seen as a direct cost of generating revenue.

Before ASC 606, businesses accounted for commissions as direct expenses. This meant that sales commissions, bonuses, and incentive pay for staff and contractors could all be calculated and directly expensed at the end of the year or reporting period. It was a fairly straightforward process that has now become a bit more complicated. A commission is a fee that a business pays to a salesperson in exchange for his or her services in either facilitating, supervising, or completing a sale.

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It may also be categorized as a cost of goods sold, because it is one of the expenses related to offering the service or product for sale. With regards to sales compensation, ASC 606 requires finance to amortize commission expense for individual sales reps over the length of contracts. In most cases, the operating expense of a sales commission will be categorised under SG&A (selling, general, and administrative). For the sake of this article and the ASC 606 regulation, we will be focused on the accrual basis method. The accrual basis recognizes the revenue when it is billed and earned, regardless of when the cash is paid or received. However, for companies that earn commissions from secondary activities, the same will not apply.

Types of Selling Expenses

The company responsible for paying the sales commissions will report a selling expense. The company or person that did the selling will report revenues or income for the amount earned. It will also report a receivable for any commissions earned but not yet received. Offering your employees commissions encourages them to think like owners by letting them share in the profits of new business.

Treatment of SaaS Commission Costs under ASC 606 and ASC 340-40

So, sales costs are always changing as the company adapts to growth and expansion. That’s why predicting sales commission expense is so cumbersome, time-consuming, and really frustrating if done wrong. To provide you with a better understanding of the treatment of various incremental costs like your sales commissions, we’ve listed a few cases along with a simplified decision-making workflow.

ABC Co. recorded the revenues from those laptops under its primary revenues. When it comes to sales commission treatment, companies will need to be able to separate out the commission expenses for different revenue lines. This means you must separate a commission for a product whose revenue is booked on schedule from the commission for the delivery that books its revenue on a different time frame. There are several steps to take to help with the data challenges of the new standards. Public companies have been under compliance since December 2017, and private companies have been under compliance since December 15, 2018. Under the new revenue recognition standard, companies must change the way they report revenue in their accounting for sales commissions.

As you can see, there are a few different expense categories that sales commissions can come under. It will ultimately depend on the specific business and how they operate. However, the most common expense categories are cost of goods sold, selling, general and administrative expenses, and other operating expenses.

As you can see, expenses to the sales team include compensation and commissions. We love helping businesses reduce the pain of calculating and accounting for sales commissions, freeing them to spend more time growing and serving their customers. ASC 606 introduced a few key changes to the accounting process for sales and what is the journal entry for accounts payable commissions incentives. We’ll take a look at how it used to work and compare that to what it looks like under the new 5-step revenue recognition standards. The process of recording a typical commissions expense, where a salesperson is paid commissions at specific intervals, such as monthly or quarterly, is as follows.

The Impact of ASC 606 and ASC 340-40 on SaaS Sales Commissions

For companies that focus on profits, making revenues through operations is highly crucial. On Oct 17, we held a customer roundtable with Xactly Commission Expense Accounting (CEA) customers. They shared the biggest challenges they’ve faced and advice for ASC 606 implementation. To help you understand the basics of accounting for sales commissions, here’s your need-to-know overview of ASC 606 (IFRS 15). With the new revenue recognition standards in effect, companies must report intangible assets as forecasted estimates. Then throughout each period, they need to account for those estimates as they evolve based on performance and company spending.