There are three concrete parts to the Balance sheet. The parts comprise of assets, liabilities, and Equity. These three parts are also based on the accounting equation is:

Shareholder’s equity= Assets – Liabilities

In simple words, the primary difference is that equity is the investors’ resources in the company and liabilities are the outsiders’ resources used by the company for time being for consideration called interest or for operating purposes. Now, let’s discuss the top 7 differences on the basis of the following:

1) Definition

Equity is the capital of the business. It is the money that is invested by the owner of the business i.e., the shareholders of the company.

In other words, equity can be defined as the assets which are created by the company after discharging its liabilities. It is always shown on the liabilities side of the balance sheet. It has a credit balance. 

Liabilities are the obligations of the company arising out of past actions where is a probable outflow of money in the future. It is shown on the left side of the balance sheet. It is classified as a current and non-current liability.

2) Classification

Equity is two types with various iterations in them in terms of features. These are equity share capital and preference share capital. The retained earnings are attributable to equity shareholders.

Hence, it also forms part of equity. Equity is also termed stockholders’ equity. Technically equity does not have any classification.

Liabilities can be classified in two categories as Long-term liabilities or Non-current liabilities and Current Liabilities. Long term liabilities are those liabilities which are payable after one year. Current liabilities are those liabilities which are payable within current year.

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3) Line Items

Line items are the presentation items as being shown in the balance sheet. Equity consists of contributed capital, treasury stock, preferred shares, and retained earnings. It is shown on Liabilities and Capital Side and under journal entries, these items are always credit items.

While making journal entries, liabilities are always credited unless there in decrease in liabilities. Liabilities consist of Non-current liabilities and Current liabilities. The line items consist of notes payable, long term debts, advance receipts, accounts payables, etc

4) Nature

Equity is the kind of fund invested by the shareholders to accrete value i.e. generate profits and optimize the value of the company as a whole.

On the other hand, liabilities are resources from the outsiders for the time being either a result of arrangement or transaction. The liabilities out of arrangements are long term liabilities and out of transactions are current liabilities.

5) Accounting Equation

The fundamental concept of the accounting equation is based on

Assets = Liabilities + equity

Here, Equity can be derived by subtracting liabilities from assets. Liabilities on the other hand is derived by subtracting equity from assets.

Assets and Equity both are balance sheet items. However, they are closely linked to profit and loss statement. Retained earnings is part of equity.

Every year, the net profits are transferred to retained earnings after making the required payment of dividends.

On the other hand, liabilities are not directly related with income statement. However, all those payables which are accrued for the current year are still being shown on both income statement and balance sheet due to concept of accruals.

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7) Outflows

Under equity, outflows are necessary only under the case of dividend distribution or when the company is liquidated.

On the other hand, there is regular payments being made to current liabilities and occasional cash flows to long term liabilities.

The summary of differences between them are given below:

Basis of difference EquityLiabilites
DefinitionIt is the money invested by owners in the businessIt is the money owed by the company.
PurposeUsed for buying assets or discharging debts of companyLaibilities are burden to the company and are paid off by the company in due course.
ClassificationDivided into equity share capital, preference share capital, reserves and surplus etc.Classified as current and non-current liabilities.
OwnershipEquity is the fund of owner.Funds go out from the company in payment of liabilities.
Accounting equationEquity= Assets- LiabilitiesLiabilities = Assets- Equity
NatureEquity is the source of funds to acquire resourcesLiabilities arise during procurement of funds and application of funds.
Link with income statementRetained earnings link equity with income statement.There is no direct link between liabilities and income statement
Line itemsEquity consists of contributed capital, treasury stock, preferred shares and retained earnings.The line items consist of notes payable, long term debts, advance receipts, accounts payables, etc