What Are Unpresented or Outstanding Checks?

An unpresented check (or outstanding check) is a check that has been issued or drawn by the depositor but not presented to the bank for payment until the date that the bank statement is issued.

Effect of Unpresented Checks on Bank Balance

When a check is issued to a creditor or third party, it is immediately recorded in the bank column on the credit side of the cash book. This reduces the bank balance in the cash book.

However, the receiving party may not present the check to the bank for payment on the same date. The bank will only debit the depositor’s account when the check is presented to it, and this will be paid by the bank.

So, as long the check remains unpresented, a disparity will exist between the balances of both the books.

Do you know how to read a check?

Example

On 28 January 2019, the balance as per the cash book and bank statement amounts to $10,000. On the same day, a check of $7,000 is issued to a creditor, Mr. John, who presents the check to his bank on 2 February 2019.
Mr. John Cash Book
Mr. John Balance Sheet

Since Mr. John didn’t present the check to the bank for payment, the cash book shows a bank balance of $3,000, whereas the bank statement shows a bank balance of $10,000. There is a discrepancy of $7,000 between the balances of the books.

Therefore, when checks are unpresented, the cash book’s balance appears lower than the bank statement’s balance.

Treatment of Unpresented Checks in Bank Reconciliation Statement

The difference between the balances of the cash book and bank statement caused by unpresented checks is only temporary. This is because the check will be eventually be presented; that’s why we will not alter our cash book.

However, on the date of the bank statement, the amount of the check (i.e., $7,000) was shown in the bank account.

As the bank statement shows a greater balance compared to the cash book, it is important to debit the amount of the unpresented cheque when preparing the bank reconciliation statement, which will bring up the balance to the level of the bank statement.

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True is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance (CEPF®), contributes to his financial education site, Finance Strategists, and has spoken to various financial communities such as the CFA Institute, as well as university students like his Alma mater, Biola University, where he received a bachelor of science in business and data analytics.

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