Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Types of Accounting
The two methods of tracking your accounting records are:
• Cash Based Accounting
• Accrual Method of Accounting
Cash Based Accounting
Most of us use the cash method to keep track of our personal financial activities. The cash method recognizes revenue when payment is received, and recognizes expenses when cash is paid out. For example, your personal checkbook record is based on the cash method. Expenses are recorded when cash is paid out and revenue is recorded when cash or check deposits are received.
The accrual method of accounting requires that revenue be recognized and assigned to the accounting period in which it is earned. Similarly, expenses must be recognized and assigned to the accounting period in which they are incurred.
A Company tracks the summary of the accounting activity in time intervals called Accounting periods. These periods are usually a month long. It is also common for a company to create an annual statement of records. This annual period is also called a Fiscal or an Accounting Year.
The accrual method relies on the principle of matching revenues and expenses. This principle says that the expenses for a period, which are the costs of doing business to earn income, should be compared to the revenues for the period, which are the income earned as the result of those expenses. In other words, the expenses for the period should accurately match up with the costs of producing revenue for the period.
In general, there are two types of adjustments that need to be made at the end of the accounting period. The first type of adjustment arises when more expense or revenue has been recorded than was actually incurred or earned during the accounting period. An example of this might be the pre-payment of a 2-year insurance premium, say, for $2000. The actual insurance expense for the year would be only $1000. Therefore, an adjusting entry at the end of the accounting period is necessary to show the correct amount of insurance expense for that period.
Similarly, there may be revenue that was received but not actually earned during the accounting period. For example, the business may have been paid for services that will not actually be provided or earned until the next year. In this case, an adjusting entry at the end of the accounting period is made to defer, that is, to postpone, the recognition of revenue to the period it is actually earned.
Although many companies use the accrual method of accounting, some small businesses prefer the cash basis. The accrual method generates tax obligations before the cash has been collected. This benefits the Government because the IRS gets its tax money sooner.