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Debt from a credit sale that the creditor is unable to collect. Debt becomes bad debt when the creditor has made all reasonable efforts to collect the debt but has been unable to do so. Often, this occurs when the debtor declares bankruptcy or when pursuing collection attempts further will cost more than the debt itself. A company writes off bad debt as an expense, which reduces its taxable income. However, it also deprives the company of cash flow that is ultimately necessary to keep it in business.
Business accounts receivable that have been included in income in a prior year that are uncollectible, legally binding debts owed to the taxpayer that are totally worthless and uncollectible, and debts the taxpayer must pay that he or she guaranteed in connection with his business or for a profit may be deductible as bad debts.