Accounting Principles Meaning, Top 6 Basic Principles


Billie Anne has been a bookkeeper since before the turn of the century. She is a QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor, LivePlan Expert Advisor, FreshBooks Certified Partner and a Mastery Level Certified Profit First Professional. She is also a guide for the Profit First Professionals organization. In 2012, she started Pocket Protector Bookkeeping, a virtual bookkeeping and managerial accounting service for small businesses. It is equally important to know how to apply these principles correctly to avoid mistakes that could prove costly down the road, whether you are doing accounting yourself or have hired someone else to handle it. If the accounting information system is cost-effective, it can provide desired output and if flexible, it can contribute much in achieving the objective of a person or an organization.

For example, your viewpoint may not be objective if you once worked for the same company that you are now an auditor for because your relationship with this client might skew your work. Of course, the accountant or auditor is free to come to a different conclusion if there’s evidence that the business can’t pay back its loan or meet other obligations. In that case, the company might need to start considering the liquidation value of assets. Here are the nine most important accounting concepts small-business owners should know. This principle states that given two options in the valuation of business transactions, the amount recorded should be the lower rather than the higher value.

Basic accounting and its secrets

Examples include rent, marketing and advertising costs, insurance, and administrative costs. In accounting, liquidity describes the relative ease with which an asset can be sold for cash. Assets that can easily be converted into cash are known as liquid assets. Accounts receivable, securities, and money market instruments are all common examples of liquid assets. As used in accounting, inventory describes assets that a company intends to liquidate through sales operations. It includes assets being held for sale, those in the process of being made, and the materials used to make them.

Accountants are expected to apply accounting principles, procedures, and practices consistently from period to period. If a change is justified, the change must be disclosed on the financial statements. Since 1973, US GAAP has been developed and maintained by the Financial Accounting Standards Board , a non-government, not-for-profit organization. In 2009, the FASB launched the Accounting Standards Codification , which it continues to update. This electronic database contains the official accounting standards which apply to the financial reporting of U.S companies and not-for-profit organizations. Suppose a firm purchases land for $20,000 and a building for $100,000.

Conservatism Principle

This is specifically what needs to be done for the system to stay in balance. Revenues are to be recognized on a company’s income statement when they are earned. Therefore, a company will report some revenues on its income statement before a customer pays for the goods or services it has received. In the case of cash sales, revenues will be reported when customers pay for their merchandise.


Before we dive into the golden principles of accounting, you need to brush up on all things debit and credit. As a result, Smith’s account would be credited, and the Purchases account will be debited. Use the second golden rule when dealing with real accounts, also called permanent accounts. Their remaining balances are instead carried over to the upcoming accounting quarter. A nominal account is an account relating to all income, expenses, profit and losses of a business.

The Monetary Unit Principle

For example, GAAP stipulates how to file income statements, what financial periods to include, and how to report cash flow. These components create consistent accounting and reporting standards, which provide prospective and existing investors with reliable methods of evaluating an organization’s financial standing. Without GAAP, accountants could use misleading methods to paint a deceptive picture of a company or organization’s financial standing. Consistency Principle – all accounting principles and assumptions should be applied consistently from one period to the next. This ensures that financial statements are comparable between periods and throughout the company’s history. It’s important to have a basic understanding of these main accounting principles as you learn accounting.

cash flow statement

It will also prepare adjusting entries for expenses that occurred but were not paid. This principle states that all parties involved in reporting financial data are expected to act honestly and in good faith. The focus of this principle is that there should be consistency in the procedures used in financial reporting. If a company changes the way it records or presents financial documents, the accountants are expected to disclose and explain the reasons behind the changes. These are separate from the 10 accounting principles listed above, but there may be some overlap between the two lists. While GAAP includes a number of official accounting rules and standards, there there are 10 principles that can help you understand the mission of GAAP.

Balance sheet

This is quite a vague concept that is difficult to quantify, which has led some of the more picayune controllers to record even the smallest transactions. This makes it easier for investors to analyze and extract useful information from the company’s financial statements, including trend data over a period of time. It also facilitates the comparison of financial information across different companies.

What are the 5 basic accounting principle?

Although the guidelines for accountants are extensive, there are five main principles that underpin accounting practices and the preparation of financial statements. These are the accrual principle, the matching principle, the historic cost principle, the conservatism principle and the principle of substance over form.

As per the conservatism principle, the accountant should go with the former choice, i.e., to report the loss of machinery even before the loss would happen. Accounting TransactionsAccounting Transactions are business activities which have a direct monetary effect on the finances of a Company. For example, Apple representing nearly $200 billion in cash & cash equivalents in its balance sheet is an accounting transaction. Accounting policies are the specific principles and procedures implemented by a company’s management that are used to prepare financial statements. Privately held companies and nonprofit organizations also may be required by lenders or investors to file GAAP-compliant financial statements. For example, annual audited GAAP financial statements are a common loan covenant required by most banking institutions.

Many groups rely on government statements, including constituents and lawmakers. The board’s processes and communications are available for public review. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles are important because they set the rules for reporting and bookkeeping. These rules, often called the GAAP framework, maintain consistency in financial reporting from company to company across all industries.

  • Conversely, this principle tends to encourage the recordation of losses earlier, rather than later.
  • Tracking operations that record, administrate, and analyze the compensation paid to employees are collectively known as payroll accounting.
  • Therefore, most companies and organizations in the U.S. comply with GAAP, even though it is not a legal requirement.
  • As an accountant, you know that accounting principles are rules for reporting financial information.

According to the Companies Act, 2013 and the Income Tax Act, an organization has to prepare its income statements annually. However, in some cases, like the retirement of a partner between the accounting period, etc., the firm can prepare interim financial statements. 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 is the concept that you should record expenses and liabilities as soon as possible, but to record revenues and assets only when you are sure that they will occur. This introduces a conservative slant to the financial statements that may yield lower reported profits, since revenue and asset recognition may be delayed for some time.

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