If I have to pay an invoice it's my liability. If someone has to pay an invoice issued by me it's also liability. Are there any words that distinguish these two types of liabilities?

Disclaimer: Sorry if that's obvious, I'm not a native speaker.

  • 1
    Bills Payable and Bills Receivable are standard accounting terms. Dec 30, 2013 at 16:25

3 Answers 3


They are the same sort of liability, so there is no need for a term to distinguish them.

However, they are not both liabilities on the same set of books. The invoice you must pay is a liability (a payable) on your books, but an asset (a receivable) on your customer's books. Likewise, the invoice your customer must pay you is an asset (a receivable) on your books, and a liability (a payable) only on your customer's books.

  • How would you call a property that describes if it's an asset or a liability? I was thinking about sign(like plus or minus) or direction.
    – Gherman
    Apr 25, 2019 at 8:29

If someone has yet to pay a bill that you issued, this would be entered in Accounts Receivable or similar, where it is usually considered an asset rather than a liability.


If it's your liability to pay then you could say that you are the debtor; if you are owed money on an invoice then you could say that you are the creditor.

  • Ok, but how to call the activity? How to distinguish debtor's liability from creditor's liability? Btw, does 'liability' have plural or is it only singular?
    – alekwisnia
    Dec 30, 2013 at 16:21
  • Can you share more details about the scenario? Your liability to someone else could be referred to as a "debt" and someone else's liability to you could be referred to as "unpaid balance", "unpaid invoice", or "unpaid asset". And yes, liability does have a plural form which you correctly used: liabilities.
    – cfx
    Dec 30, 2013 at 16:32

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