Accrual Accounting

Accrual Accounting Meaning

Accrual Accounting principle states that revenue is recognized when the sale is completed (regardless of whether it is a cash or credit sale) and expenses are matched and recognized concurrently with the corresponding revenue (regardless of when the expense is paid).

Understanding Accounting Accounting Basis

Accruals in Accounting are the expenses or revenues that have been recorded by the firm but not yet realized. The main reason for using accrual accounting is to get a fair and accurate picture of the business at any given stage. Let’s say that you, an investor, want to know where a business stands at any given point in time. So what would you want to know? You would want to know how a business is doing right now, not what a business will receive shortly. If a company is using the accrual basis of accounting, then as an investor, you won’t be in doubt – whether the current affairs of the company are the most accurate or not.

It showcases exactly what is happening in the business, not what a business will achieve shortly. For example, if a firm has sold products on credit, then it will show the same as sales even if the money is yet to be received by the company.

Another vital point is that it is applicable for businesses that are relatively medium to large and which earn a decent amount of cash flowCash FlowCash Flow is the amount of cash or cash equivalent generated & consumed by a Company over a given period. It proves to be a prerequisite for analyzing the business’s strength, profitability, & scope for betterment. read more during any year.

Accrual-Accounting

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Source: Accrual Accounting (wallstreetmojo.com)

Accrual Accounting Concepts

Let us see the usage of accrual accounting methods and practical concepts.

#1 – Accounts Payables

Difference Ltd. has salaries payableSalaries PayableSalary payable refers to the liability of the company towards its employees against the amount of salary of a period that became due but has not been paid yet to them by the company and it is shown in the balance of the company under the head liability.read more of $40,000. How would we treat it as per the accrual basis of accounting?

The effect of this transaction would be two dimensional. That means one needs to record this transaction in two places.

First, it would be recorded as salary expenses in the income statement. And then, it would be treated as a current liability and will be recorded on the balance sheet of the company.

Let us now look at a practical example. Below is the snapshot of Colgate’s Current LiabilitiesCurrent LiabilitiesCurrent Liabilities are the payables which are likely to settled within twelve months of reporting. They're usually salaries payable, expense payable, short term loans etc.read more. We note that Colgate has reported accounts payables of $1,124 million in 2016 and $1,110 million in 2015. Accounts payablesAccounts PayablesAccounts payable is the amount due by a business to its suppliers or vendors for the purchase of products or services. It is categorized as current liabilities on the balance sheet and must be satisfied within an accounting period.read more primarily consist of salary payables.

Accrual Accounting - Accounts Payable

source: Colgate SEC Filings

#2 – Prepaid Expenses

Similar Ltd. has prepaid wages of $100,000. How would we treat it as per the accrual basis of accounting?

This transaction is the opposite of the previous example.

We will record the transaction in two places.

First, we will record it as a wage expense in the income statementIncome StatementThe income statement is one of the company's financial reports that summarizes all of the company's revenues and expenses over time in order to determine the company's profit or loss and measure its business activity over time based on user requirements.read more. And we will also record prepaid wages under the current assets of the balance sheetCurrent Assets Of The Balance SheetCurrent assets refer to those short-term assets which can be efficiently utilized for business operations, sold for immediate cash or liquidated within a year. It comprises inventory, cash, cash equivalents, marketable securities, accounts receivable, etc.read more.

Below is the snapshot of the Facebook Balance Sheet. We note that Facebook has reported prepaid expenses of $959 million and $659 million in 2016 and 2015, respectively.

Prepaid Expenses

source: Facebook SEC Filings

#3 – Accounts Receivables

Equal Ltd. has total sales of $10, 00,000. Out of the total sales, 60% is in cash. How would we treat this transaction under accrual accounting?

Here, 40% of sales are credit salesCredit SalesCredit Sales is a transaction type in which the customers/buyers are allowed to pay up for the bought item later on instead of paying at the exact time of purchase. It gives them the required time to collect money & make the payment. read more. But the credit sales will also be treated as sales, and the profit would be generated by including both the cash and credit sales and then deducting the cost of goods soldCost Of Goods SoldThe cost of goods sold (COGS) is the cumulative total of direct costs incurred for the goods or services sold, including direct expenses like raw material, direct labour cost and other direct costs. However, it excludes all the indirect expenses incurred by the company.read more and the operating expenses.

If it were cash accountingCash AccountingCash Accounting is an accounting methodology that registers revenues when they are received & expenditures when they are paid in the given period, thereby aiming at cash inflows & outflows. read more, we wouldn’t have recorded the credit sales.

Below is again an example from Colgate’s Balance Sheet. We note that Colgate has reported accounts receivablesReported Accounts ReceivablesAccounts receivables refer to the amount due on the customers for the credit sales of the products or services made by the company to them. It appears as a current asset in the corporate balance sheet.read more of $1,411 million on $1,427 million in 2016 and 2015, respectively.

Accounts Receivables

source: Colgate SEC Filings

Accrual Accounting in Amazon

Refer to the following screenshot depicting Amazon.com’s financials.

accrual example 2

Here, one can observe that in the Accounts receivables section, the firm has recorded some numbers. These payments that the firm expects to receive from its customers for the services or the goods delivered. But since this payment is not yet received, there is a credit riskA Credit RiskCredit risk is the probability of a loss owing to the borrower's failure to repay the loan or meet debt obligations. It refers to the possibility that the lender may not receive the debt's principal and an interest component, resulting in interrupted cash flow and increased cost of collection.read more involved as there is an element of uncertainty, and that is why the firm has also recorded Bad debt or doubtful accounts. This is a good accounting practiceAccounting PracticeAccounting practice is a set of procedures and controls used by an entity's accounting department to keep track of accounting records and entries. Other reports are generated based on accounting records, such as financial statements, cash flow statements, fund flow statements, payroll, tax workings, payment and receipts statements, and so on, and they form the basis of the auditor's reliance while auditing the financial statements.read more and helps in removing the ambiguity of the accrual-based revenues.

Advantages

Disadvantages

Accrual Accounting Basis Video

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This has been a guide to the Accrual Accounting principle & its meaning. We discuss the accrual basis of accounting concepts along with advantages & disadvantages. You may also have a look at these articles for enhancing your knowledge in accounting –

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  1. Thanuj kumar s says

    good