12 May, 2023

Accounting Principles Explained: How They Work, GAAP, IFRS

what are the basic principles of accounting

That way, you’ll have an accurate record of all paychecks and time tracking for each employee, helping streamline the bookkeeping process. No matter which option you choose, you’ll need to decide between the cash or accrual method of accounting. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to track every expense and transaction your business has. By tracking everything, you’ll never have to worry about any expenses or potential tax deductions slipping through the cracks. For example, certain expenses like business travel can be deducted from your taxes.

what are the basic principles of accounting

Accountants are expected to fully disclose and explain the reasons behind any changed or updated standards in the footnotes to the financial statements. The “matching” accounting principle says that you should record revenue and expenses related to revenue at the same time to reveal any cause-and-effect Law Firm Bookkeeping 101 relationships between income and purchases. For example, let’s say you pay a commission to a salesperson for a sale that you record in March. GAAP is important for businesses because it sets a standard for how financial reports are organized and how reporting is carried out by accountants.

Choose an accounting method

Without a plan in place, it would be nearly impossible to come to the same conclusions about your financial health at the end of every month. Therefore, these are just two of the reasons establishing the accounting principles at your business connects to your success. This basic accounting principle identifies the point in time that a company can log a transaction as an expense. Also known as the expense recognition principle, the concept states that an expense occurs at the time that the business accepts the good or service from an entity.

  • These programs also send your customers’ receipts, reconcile your transactions, and handle returns if necessary.
  • Without regulatory standards, companies would be free to present financial information in whichever format best suits their needs.
  • The board’s processes and communications are available for public review.
  • These standards may be too complex for their accounting needs, and hiring personnel to create GAAP definition reports can be expensive.
  • They are the functional opposite of credits and are positioned to the left side in accounting documents.

Once you have a set process for documenting and reporting your finances, stick to it. You (or your business) are taxed on your net profit, so it’s important to proactively plan for your tax liability. Do this by staying on top of your net profit amount, setting aside some of your revenue in a separate savings account, or paying your estimated taxes every quarter (like employer withholding). COGS or COS is the first expense you’ll see on your profit and loss (P&L) statement and is a critical component when calculating your business’s gross margin. Reducing your COGS can help you increase profit without increasing sales.


Thus, we should assume that there will be another accounting period in the future. Periodicity Assumption – simply states that companies should be able to record their financial activities during a certain period of time. Historical Cost Principle – requires companies to record the purchase of goods, services, or capital assets at the price they paid for them.

LLC structures allow business owners to separate their personal finances from the company’s finances. As such, owners cannot be held personally liable for debts incurred solely by the company. In corporate accounting, dividends represent portions of the https://intuit-payroll.org/top-15-bookkeeping-software-for-startups/ company’s profits voluntarily paid out to investors. Investors are often paid in cash, but may also be issued stock, real property, or liquidation proceeds. In most cases, dividends follow a regular monthly, quarterly, or annual payment schedule.

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Not only will this help offset some upfront expenses, but it will also contribute to your business’s overall credit. Also, Corporations and LLCs are required to have a separate line of credit outside their personal accounts. It makes sure that financial statements are a realistic overview of revenues and liabilities. All financial reporting methods should be consistent across time periods. By law, accountants representing all publicly traded companies must comply with GAAP.

In this case, we’re discussing number one, the basic accounting principles that dictate how your accountant does their job. These accounting principles guarantee consistency in accounting reports and financial statements among all businesses and therefore, help protect business owners, consumers, and investors from fraud. Ultimately, then, the more you understand about these basic accounting principles, the easier it will be to work with any accounting professional you hire for your business. The purpose of accounting principles is to establish the framework for how financial accounting is recorded and reported on financial statements. When every company follows the same framework and rules, investors, creditors, and other financial statement users will have an easier time understanding the reports and making decisions based on them.