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A liability is a something for which one is obligated.[1] Most often, in financial accounting, a liability is debt or de facto debt.

According to U.S. GAAP:

"[A Liability is] probable future sacrifices of economic benefits, arising from present obligations of a particular entity, to transfer assets or provide services to other entities in the future."[2]

Under International Financial Reporting Standards or IFRS, a liability is:

"...a present obligation of the entity arising from past events, the settlement of which is expected to result in an outflow from the entity of resources embodying economic benefits."[3]


  1. "Liability - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary." Dictionary and Thesaurus - Merriam-Webster Online. online (accessed April 3, 2011).
  2. FASB Concept Statement No. 6, paragraph 35
  3. IASB Conceptual Framework, paragraph 49

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