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What are basic accounting principles and assumptions? Accounting Questions & Answers Q&A

basic accounting principles

You could own any type of business and you’d still be operating using the same accounting principles. That’s why as a business owner, understanding these basic accounting terms and concepts is an important aspect of running your business properly. Read on to learn how to follow the basic accounting principles and maintain your business’s financial integrity. When you are recording information about your business, you need to consider the revenue recognition principle. This is the period of time when revenues are recognized through the income statement of your company. This allows the analysts of financial statements to make meaningful comparisons between several accounting periods.

  • On the balance sheet, accounts that represent favorable activity for your business have positive balances.
  • Periodicity AssumptionThe periodicity assumption states that a company can report its financial information within certain designated or artificial periods of time.
  • Conservatism results in recording unpredictable expenses and liabilities earlier than uncertain revenue and assets.
  • Basically, bookkeeping keeps you from spending and making money without tracking it.

For example, if you record revenue from selling several retail inventory items, you should also record the expenses for inventory and cost of goods. This both helps you keep up with the accrual basis of accounting mentioned above and helps avoid mistakes between profits and costs of operation. In practical terms, this principle is meant to prevent businesses from switching between different accounting methods or treatments for their transactions without cause.


The accounting principles of Conservatism and Neutrality determine disclosures and what is recorded in the company financial statements. The Notes to the financial statements (and the auditing firm’s opinion) would disclose any Going Concern issue. All financial statements need to be useful, relevant, faithful representations which are verifiable, reliable, and unbiased, and understandable. Financial statements are prepared with the assumption that the economic entity is a going concern unless otherwise indicated by significant evidence. A cost-benefit constraint is used when preparing financial statements. Financial statements need to be issued on a timely basis, with comparison to other time periods, to be most useful. They should be prepared consistently for items within different periods and across business entities.

basic accounting principles

The following exercise is designed to help students apply their knowledge of the fundamental principles of accounting in a real-life context. On the other hand, in value-based accounting (e.g. current cost accounting) accounting data is not bias-free because the value may mean different things for different persons. In other words, the Objectivity Principle requires that each recorded transaction/event in the books of accounts should have adequate evidence to support it. According to the Objectivity Principle, the accounting data should be definite, verifiable and free from the personal bias of the accountant. The practice of appending notes to the financial statements has developed as a result of the principle of full disclosure.

Are all companies required to follow GAAP?

Revenue Recognition and the Matching Principle are reflected in the income statement, as revenues and costs or expenses are recorded. Conservatism is reflected when recording accruals relating to the impact of possible future events like expected or unresolved litigation. For comparability, financial information that includes a comparison to another period of time, date, or business entity helps users make decisions by understanding similarities and differences. The FASB addresses consistency in this section, defining it as using the same methods to account for the same items for different periods of time and across business entities in the same time period. Per the FASB Conceptual Framework, Comparability is the goal; consistency helps to achieve that goal. The FASB’s Conceptual Framework Statement 8 includes the objective of financial statements and qualitative characteristics that also underly generally accepted accounting principles. Accountants record revenues in the period of time to which the revenues relate and contract obligations are performed.

  • In contrast, all the revenues and gains should not be recorded, and such revenues and profits should be recognized only when there is reasonable certainty of its actual receipt.
  • It asks accountants to continue to use any accounting principle or method they began with so long as they don’t have a demonstrably better principle or method.
  • Therefore, transactions for the entity should be restricted to only those that apply to a particular economic entity and will not include transactions that apply solely to the owner.
  • GAAP is required for all publicly traded companies in the U.S.; it is also routinely implemented by non-publicly traded companies as well.
  • Operating expenses are necessary for a company to do business and generate revenue, like rent, utilities, payroll, and utilities.
  • Objectivity in the recording of transactions is possible when the transactions of the firm are supported by verifiable vouchers or documents.

In other words, financial documents should be understandable by themselves without needing additional documents for clarification. This prevents confusion both within a business and in the event of an outside audit. Harold Averkamp has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years. Joe will no doubt start his business by putting some of his own personal money into it. Anastasia is a FinTech writer with experience working as a freelance writer for small business owners. She has participated in numerous events dedicated to business management and marketing.

What Are Accounting Principles?

Although a business can prepare a number of different financial statements, the income statement and balance sheet are the most basic reports produced. The income statement is the same as a profit and loss statement, and it tells you how much money you made or lost during the period. The balance sheet lists your assets and liabilities, and it gives you a snapshot of how much your company is worth. Types of accounts that affect your income statement include sales, overhead expenses and cost of goods sold. Your balance sheet lists accounts such as inventory, cash, property and equipment, notes payable and accounts receivable. The purpose of accounting principles is to establish the framework for how financial accounting is recorded and reported on financial statements.

basic accounting principles

Without regulatory standards, companies would be free to present financial information in whichever format best suits their needs. With the ability to portray a company’s fiscal standing in a favorable light, investors could be easily misled.

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