10 Differences Between provision and reserve

Provision vs Reserve

Provision vs Reserve

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What is Provision?

Provision refers to the act of setting aside funds or assets to cover future expenses or losses that are reasonably certain
but their timing or amount may not be precisely known. In accounting, provisions are recognized as a liability on the balance sheet.

Examples of Provision

  • Companies often create provisions for bad debts to account for potential losses from customers who may not pay their outstanding bills.
  • Provisions are made for legal claims that a company may face in the future.
  • Environmental provisions can be established to cover costs related to cleaning up contaminated sites.

Uses of Provision

  • Provisions ensure that companies set aside sufficient resources to cover known or estimated liabilities, thereby enhancing
    financial reporting accuracy and transparency.
  • Provisions enable companies to manage risks and uncertainties by planning for future contingencies.
  • Provisions help companies comply with accounting regulations and standards.

What is Reserve?

A reserve, unlike a provision, is an appropriation of profits or income set aside by a company to strengthen its financial position,
mitigate risks, or distribute dividends in the future. Reserves are also reflected as a liability in the balance sheet.

Examples of Reserve

  • A general reserve is typically established to cover unforeseen losses or to bolster the financial position of a company.
  • A dividend reserve is created to ensure sufficient funds are available for future dividend payments.
  • A contingency reserve is set aside to handle unexpected events that may impact a company’s operations.

Uses of Reserve

  • Reserves provide financial stability and safeguard against potential future losses.
  • Reserves allow companies to reinvest in the business and fuel growth.
  • Reserves support the payment of dividends to shareholders.

Differences between Provision and Reserve

Difference Area Provision Reserve
Recognition: Recognized as a liability on the balance sheet. Recognized as a liability on the balance sheet.
Nature: Covering known or estimated liabilities. Appropriation of profits or income.
Purpose: To account for future expenses or losses. To strengthen financial position or distribute dividends.
Creation: Based on specific events or obligations. Based on available profits or income.
Usage: Minimize risks and uncertainties. Support financial stability and growth.
Effect on Profit: Decreases profit before tax. No impact on profit before tax.
Regulations: Subject to accounting standards and guidelines. May be subject to legal or company-specific requirements.
Flexibility: Usually less flexible as it is based on specific events. Can be more flexible as it is based on available profits.
Types: Specific provisions (e.g., bad debt provision). General reserves, contingency reserves, dividend reserves, etc.
Impact on Shareholders: No direct impact on shareholders. Strengthens financial position and supports dividend payments.


In summary, provisions and reserves serve different purposes in the financial management of a company. Provisions are established to
account for future expenses or losses, while reserves help strengthen the financial position and support various company needs.
While both are recognized as liabilities, provisions focus on estimated liabilities, whereas reserves are based on available profits
or income. Understanding the distinctions between provision and reserve is essential for accurate financial reporting and decision-making.

People Also Ask:

  • 1. What is the difference between provision and reserve?
  • Provisions are created to account for future expenses or losses, while reserves are an appropriation of profits or income to strengthen financial position or support dividends.

  • 2. Are provisions and reserves considered liabilities?
  • Yes, both provisions and reserves are recognized as liabilities on the company’s balance sheet.

  • 3. Can reserves be used to cover specific obligations?
  • Yes, companies can allocate reserves to cover specific obligations, such as creating a contingency reserve for potential legal claims.

  • 4. Are provisions and reserves subject to regulations?
  • Provisions are subject to accounting standards and guidelines, while reserves may be subject to legal or company-specific requirements.

  • 5. How do provisions and reserves impact the company’s financial stability?
  • Provisions help manage risks and uncertainties, while reserves contribute to financial stability by providing a cushion against potential future losses.

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