The purpose of accounting is to provide the information that is needed for sound economic decision making. The main purpose of financial accounting is to prepare financial reports that provide information about a firm's performance to external parties such as investors, creditors, and tax authorities. Managerial accounting contrasts with financial accounting in that managerial accounting is for internal decision making and does not have to follow any rules issued by standard-setting bodies. Financial accounting, on the other hand, is performed according to guidelines.
Accrual Vs. Cash Method
Many small businesses utilize an accounting system that recognizes revenue and expenses on a cash basis, meaning that neither revenue nor expenses are recognized until the cash associated with them actually is received. Most larger businesses, however, use the accrual method.
Under the accrual method, revenues and expenses are recorded according to when they are earned and incurred, not necessarily when the cash is received or paid. For example, under the accrual method revenue is recognized when customers are invoiced, regardless of when payment is received. Similarly, an expense is recognized when the bill is received, not when payment is made.
Under accrual accounting, even though employees may be paid in the next accounting period for work performed near the end of the present accounting period, the expense still is recorded in the current period since the current period is when the expense was incurred.
Businesses have two primary objectives:
- Earn a profit
- Remain solvent
Double Entry Accounting
Financial accounting is based on double-entry bookkeeping procedures in which each transaction is recorded in opposite columns of the accounts affected by the exchange. Double entry accounting is a significant improvement over simple and more error-prone single-entry bookkeeping systems.
Fundamental Accounting Model
The balance sheet is based on the following fundamental accounting equation :
Assets = Liabilities + Equity
This model has been used since the 18th century. It essentially states that a business owes all of its assets to either creditors or owners, where the assets of a business are its resources, and the creditors and owners are the sources of those resources.
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