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Me and my wife are starting a joint account, separate from both of our accounts. The intent is for both of us to contribute equally to the account and use it for joint purchases.

When I make a deposit to the account, it is a simple transfer from one account to another. But when she makes a deposit to the account, how to I classify the transaction in GnuCash? Is it income?

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I see the gnucash tag, so I guess you're setting up accounting software? Are you setting it up for you or for you and your wife as an "entity"? If it's the former, then I guess your wife's contribution is an equity contribution. If it's the latter, then her separate account should also be in the system, and it's a transfer.

EDIT

In light of the comments, some additional thoughts:

  • I think it's senselessly complicated to use this type of accounting for personal use, but you're definitely not the only person posting here that's doing it, so other people must disagree.
  • I think that, given what you've said you want to do, "equity" makes more sense than anything else, but this is not a unique choice. If you think about this is a business analogy, your wife's contribution to this account is more like becoming a shareholder than anything else, because your model seems to be that she still owns half of the joint account.
  • It would be more appropriate from an accounting point of view to either: (a) Include all of your wife's accounts and make the file be accounting at the level of the marriage, or (b) Make the file be just for yourself and remove the joint account as a regular bank account. If you do (b), then then you'd represent your share of the joint account as an asset, but you would not keep its full balance "on your books" since you don't own it all.

On the last bullet, option (b), this joint account would be like if you had a business that owned shares in some other company. You'd only take credit for your shares in the other company, not its full value.

  • Only my accounts are accounted for in the software. The joint account is included, but hers is not. So, you say it's equity? Interesting. – KOVIKO Dec 18 '15 at 4:31
  • So the type of equity would be, for example, "Joint Account Contribution"? – KOVIKO Dec 18 '15 at 5:01
  • I say "equity" but I think it's not a unique choice. What you're doing is a little unusual, so I don' think there's any standardized rule. Her contribution to that joint account is more like becoming a "shareholder" than it is any other standard accounting item. It's not really income to you because you would (I assume from what I gather you're doing) want to account for the fact that she had claim to it. – user32479 Dec 18 '15 at 5:49
  • I updated the answer based on your clarification in the comments here. – user32479 Dec 18 '15 at 6:04

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