I'm a complete accounting novice, so please go easy on me if there is an obvious answer to this question.

There is a direct sales company that provides a 50/50 split on all sales. Transactions are handled by the sales reps who collect the full amount and then pass on 50% of the sale to the parent company (who ships the product to the customer). As an example, when a $100 item is sold, the sales rep will collect $100 from the customer and pass on $50 to the parent company, pocketing the rest. In this example, at no point was $50 of the transaction the property of the sales representative or their business. Should this still be accounted as a $100 of revenue with a $50 expense or could it simply be accounted for as $50 of revenue?

Cash transactions are easy to split like this, but if you use a merchant account like Square, they may issue a 1099-K at the end of the year showing ~50% more revenue then you actually made. So it seems like it should be accounted for as $100 of income with a $50 expense, but I'd like to confirm that this is the "correct" way to view the transaction.

  • 1
    You should add an appropriate country tag (we shouldn't assume $ implies USA). My intuition is that who collects the money (or how) doesn't make any difference... the company sold a $100 item (=revenue). $50 of that goes to the salesperson as commission, the rest goes on costs and profit.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 10:28
  • 1
    "it should be accounted for as $100 of income with a $50 expense". That's how I'd do it.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 13:33
  • The question is confusing. Who are you in this example ? Is the sales rep = the direct sales company ? If you are the sales rep then you receive $100, which automatically means that you have $100 revenue. You then send $50 to someone else which is a business expense.
    – xyious
    Commented Jun 21, 2019 at 21:57
  • The sales rep is not an employee of the direct sales company. They are two distinct entities / businesses. In this example I would be the sales rep collecting $100, but $50 of that would be sent to the direct sales company to place/fulfill the order for the client. The remaining $50 is my commission which I keep for myself. Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 13:13

2 Answers 2


I think you should keep track of the $100. That's what's sitting in your bank account, and it's going to be hard to reconcile if you just ignore half of it.

You could do something like this:

Asset:Bank Liability:DirectSalesCo Income:Commission Sale +$100 +$50 +$50 $100 $50 $50 Sale +$100 +$50 +$50 $200 $100 $100 Pay DSC -$100 -$100 $100 $0 $100


For the direct sales company:

Revenue $100

Cost of Sales $50

Gross Profit $50

For the sales rep:

Revenue $50

Cost of Sales (Travelling Expenses, Communication Expenses, etc.)


The above is a very simplistic answer using only the information given in the question. Thanks to @RonJohn for pointing out that I should improve my answer.

The direct sales company is the company making sales of the item while the sales rep is providing a service of marketing and sales. Hence, as the price of the item is $100, that translates into $100 revenue for the direct sales company.

After that, the direct sales company, in effect, pays $50 to the sales rep for his service of selling said item. This translates into $50 expenses* for the direct sales company, and $50 revenue for the sales rep.

At no point in the accounting process does the sales rep account for $100 revenue as the sales of the item does not belong to the sales rep at all. Only his commission for the service provided, which is the act of marketing and selling.

Should the sales rep be interested in analyzing his "Statement of Profit and Loss", he should then calculate his Cost of Sales for any expenses incurred in the course of performing his duty of providing said marketing and selling service, to arrive at his profit figure.

*Note: Please take note that whether the expenses the direct sales company recognizes should be categorized into Cost of Sales or Marketing Expenses is debatable and dependent on the exact business activities of the company. Personally, I might place it into Marketing Expenses since I'd assume that there would be an actual cost to pay for procuring the item in the first place.

  • 1
    Ok, but why do it that way?
    – RonJohn
    Commented Aug 2, 2019 at 10:03
  • @RonJohn Thanks for pointing out the inadequacies of my initial answer. Please continue to comment if there are any other parts of the answer I should look into and expand. I'm new here (although I did lurk quite a bit previously) so any advice is welcome.
    – Wolfram
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 1:28
  • OK, but until the rep sends the money to the direct sales company, those $50s are piling up in his bank account. He should be keeping track of them somehow. Commented Sep 4, 2019 at 4:54

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