30 Basic Accounting Terms, Acronyms and Abbreviations Students Should Know

Revenue is recognized and recorded when it’s earned, and expenses are recognized and recorded when incurred. These entries are made whether or not cash is received or paid. If assets are all the things your company possesses, the other side of the accounting equation shows who owns those things—you or someone else. If someone else owns it, it belongs in the liabilities section. Accounts receivable is the amount of money your customers or clients owe you for goods or services you’ve provided—but that they have not yet paid.

The results of all financial transactions that occur during an accounting period are summarized into the balance sheet, income statement, and cash flow statement. The financial statements of most companies are audited annually by an external CPA firm. For some, such as publicly traded companies, audits are a legal requirement.

Basic Accounting Terms

Many freelancers and sole proprietors use the cash accounting method, which records cash when it is received and expenses when they are paid, and it does not keep track of accounts payable or receivable balances. You should create the chart of accounts prior to recording any financial transactions. Fortunately, most small business accounting programs include a default chart of accounts that the majority of small businesses can use, with the ability to add more accounts if necessary. Just as managerial accounting helps businesses make decisions about management, cost accounting helps businesses make decisions about costing. Essentially, cost accounting considers all of the costs related to producing a product.

Although the IRS allows all businesses to use the accrual method of accounting, most small businesses can instead use the cash method for tax purposes. The cash method can offer more flexibility in tax planning because you can sometimes time your receipt of revenue or payments of expenses to shift these items from one tax year to another.

This also holds true for expenses as they are recorded when they were incurred, rather than when they were paid. Anytime an accounting transaction is created, there will be at least two accounts impacted. There will always be a debit entry and credit entry recorded and the totals of all of the debits and credits must be equal. Without balance between debit and credits, financial statements would not be accurate.

Therefore, the company would have $300 of liabilities. Because the income statement is prepared under the accrual basis of accounting, the revenues reported may not have been collected. Similarly, the expenses reported on the income statement might not have been paid. You could review the balance sheet changes to determine the facts, but the cash flow statement already has integrated all that information. As a result, savvy business people and investors utilize this important financial statement.

As you plunge head first into accounting, you’ll come across terms used by accountants, in accounting software and, in fact, throughout our website you may have never encountered. To help you familiarize yourself with this new world of numbers and figures, we’ve compiled the most common accounting terms in a single article. Your accounting records are vitally important because the resulting financial statements and reports help you plan and make decisions. These statements and reports may be used by some third parties like bankers, investors or creditors, and are needed to provide information to government agencies, such as the IRS. Finally, financial statements are prepared from the information in your trial balance.

Accounting Period – The span of time covered by the financial statements is the accounting period. It defines the time frame of transactions included in financial statements.

Software is no substitute for having a solid understanding of accounting basics, though. If you’re unfamiliar with these terms, be sure to study up or consult with an accounting professional to ensure you can adequately assess the financial health of your business. Accounting and financial applications typically represent one of the largest portions of a company’s software budget. Accounting software ranges from off-the-shelf programs for small businesses to full-scale customized enterprise resource planning systems for major corporations.

basic accounting

  • Also, Kartik’s hired few people to deliver the parcels, however, did not pay them (accounts payable), classified as accounts payable.
  • Common assets to be depreciated are automobiles and equipment.
  • While small business owners can use spreadsheet software, it’s really in your best interest to find accounting software that you’re comfortable using, and begin setting up your business.
  • Kartik learns that each of his company’s assets was recorded at its original cost, and even if the fair market value of an item increases, an accountant will not increase the recorded amount of that asset on the balance sheet.
  • Joe wants to understand the financial statements and wants to keep on top of his new business.
  • Current Assets – A company’s assets used in normal business operations and expected to be sold or used for less than one year.

All of these are perceived to be good for stockholder value. Shareholder’s Equity –The third section of a balance sheet is Stockholders’ Equity. (If the company is a sole purchases journal proprietorship, it is referred to as Owner’s Equity.) The amount of Shareholder Equity is exactly the difference between the asset amounts and the liability amounts.

I designed this basic accounting course to give you an understanding of the basic accounting principles, transactions, and operations. Each section has many examples of real business transactions and even sample ledgers and financial statements to help you understand the concepts. This means that all the assets owned by https://www.bookstime.com/ a company have been financed from loans from creditors and from equity from investors. “Assets” here stands for cash, account receivables, inventory, etc., that a company possesses. These entries show that your cash (a balance sheet account) has increased by $1,500, and your accounts receivable have decreased by $1,500.

basic accounting

Retained Earnings will increase when the corporation earns a profit. There will be a decrease when the corporation has a net loss. This means that revenues will automatically cause an increase in Stockholders’ Equity and expenses will automatically cause a decrease in Stockholders’ Equity. This illustrates a link between a company’s balance sheet and income statement. Please note the key word “specific point in time”.

For that, we need a cash flow statement. These entries show that your accounts receivable (a balance sheet account) has increased by $1,500, and your consulting revenue (an income statement account) has also increased by $1,500. Kartik wants to be certain that he understands what Neeraj is telling him regarding the assets on the balance sheet, so he asks Neeraj if the balance sheet is, in effect, showing what the company’s assets are worth. He is surprised to hear Neeraj say that the assets are not reported on the balance sheet at their worth (fair market value).


The North American standard which is taught in every modelling/interview prep is 1) Income Statement 2) Cash Flow Statement 3) Balance Sheet. Accurately flows through from 1 to the other. You can add more or change it up if you like but this is the standard. Other examples of things that https://www.bookstime.com/articles/adjusting-entries might be paid for before they are used include supplies and annual dues to a trade association. The portion that expires in the current accounting period is listed as an expense on the income statement; the part that has not yet expired is listed as an asset on the balance sheet.

basic accounting

Examples are rent expense and wages expense. Liabilities. These are obligations of the business, to be paid at a later date. Examples are accounts payable and loans payable.

A company will usually issue financial statements on a quarterly basis. The main components of the financial statements are the income statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement and the notes to the financial statements. The income statement shows the revenues and expenses the company experienced for the period.

Also, Kartik’s hired few people to deliver the parcels, however, did not pay them (accounts payable), classified as accounts payable. Income Statement does not report the cash position of the company.

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