Accounting Theory – Basic Accounting Concepts

There are four basic accounting concepts. The concepts specify and explain the guidelines that should be followed when managing the accounting of a business. Below there is a list of the these four basic accounting concepts and a brief summary of each concept.

1. Accruals Concept

The accruals concept states that revenue from transactions and transactions which cause liabilities are accounted for when they occur, even if cash or property has not actually been exchanged between the entities involved in the transaction. For example, a dentist, Dr. Payne orders and receives 6 months worth of toothpaste for $500 in January. Even if he does not pay for the toothpaste until February, Dr. Payne should still record the $500 liability in January and not wait until February, since he owns the goods and is liable to pay for them to the supplier. On its turn the supplier will be accounting for the sale of toothpaste to Dr. Payne.

2. Consistency Concept

Once certain accounting method has been applied by the accountant, this methods must be applied throug all the further periods for the accounting purposes. The accounting method should only be changed if there is a valid reason that requires the change. For example, if the accountant starts recording transactions using the double-entry accounting method in January, he or she should continue applying the double-entry method for the remainder of the accounting period. He or she should not begin applying the double-entry method and suddenly switch to the single-entry accounting method mid-accounting cycle for no identifiable, valid reason. This means that all the accounting methods and procedures must be applied consistently to ensure comparability of information among periods.

3. Going Concern Concept

When the accounting of a business is being managed, it should be assumed by the accountant that the business is viable and will still operational in the foreseeable future. If the accountant has any reason to believe that the business will not remain viable in the foreseeable future, he or she must state the reasons for coming to that conclusion in the financial reports of the business. If the accountant has an opinion that the company will not remain in business and there are no sufficient evidence to proof the opposite, the accountant may simply include a disclaimer in the financial reports stating that he or she believes, but cannot show evidence to prove that the business will not remain viable.

4. Prudency Concept

Liabilities are accounted for in the balance sheet even if they is only a possibility for such liabilities to occur, despite they are potential. However, revenues are accounted for in the financial statements only if the business has title for such revenue and has already collected or will collect cash or other assets in the future. If there is a doubt about this or there is no strong legal basis to recognize revenue, it is not accounted for in the accounting books. This concept helps to ensure that businesses make provisions for potential losses, not just realized losses, and do not erroneously include revenues that are simply anticipated, but not yet earned.

Source by Ana Orwel

Diana McCalpin is an accountant who manages a Certified Public Accounting Practice in Laurel, Maryland which performs audit, accounting and tax services to customers. She loves to share information with clients to help them grow their businesses and be profitable.

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