By applying similar standards in the reporting process, accountants can avoid errors or discrepancies. The GAO has statutory authority to investigate all matters relating to the receipt, disbursement, and application of public funds. Additionally, the audit authority of the GAO covers wholly and partially owned government corporations and certain nonappropriated fund activities. Further, the GAO responds to numerous requests from congressional sources for information relating to, or resulting from, its work, and it provides advice on congressional, administrative, and financial operations. This entails that accountants make full disclosure of every aspect of a company while compiling financial reports.


Today, IFRS is the preeminent international accounting standard for financial reporting, and 144 out of 166 countries or jurisdictions around the world use IFRS. Although GAAP and IFRS serve the same fundamental purposes, there are some key differences between them, including the following. Businesses and organizations use a system of accounts known as ledgers to record their transactions. The general ledger (GL or G/L) is the master account containing all ledger accounts. It holds a complete record of all transactions taking place within a specified accounting period.Major examples of individual accounts in a general ledger include asset accounts, liability accounts, and equity accounts.

Basic Accounting Terminology And Concepts

You can design a balance sheet that complies with your auditor’s needs without affecting the balance sheet that is meaningful to you. With allocations, you can assign and manage your costs more efficiently and accurately. You can define allocations for many purposes, such as to distribute expenses and create annual or period budgets. With one simple allocation, you can create budgets that reflect an increase or decrease over last year’s budget or actual amounts.

Accounting is a back-office function where employees may not directly interface with customers, product developers, or manufacturing. However, accounting plays a key role in the strategic planning, growth, and compliance requirements of a company. Prepare the adjusted trial balance to ensure these financial balances are materially correct and reasonable. Tax accountants overseeing returns in the United States rely on guidance from the Internal Revenue Service. Federal tax returns must comply with tax guidance outlined by the Internal Revenue Code . In most other countries, a set of standards governed by the International Accounting Standards Board named the International Financial Reporting Standards is used.

What Is General Accounting?

A subsidiary is an expanded description of the object account, for example, Cash in Bank.FNB . This guide uses the Business Unit.Object.Subsidiary standard notation for account numbers.


These rules are outlined by GAAP and IFRS, are required by public companies, and are mainly used by larger companies. Prepare the financial statements to summarize all transactions for a given reporting period. A measure of the outflow or reduction in net assets caused by the company’s attempt to generate revenues and includes costs, such as rent expense, salary expense, and insurance expense. There are thousands of words and concepts found in financial accounting. However, no terms are more crucial to a comprehensive understanding than these four.


Companies are still allowed to present certain figures without abiding by GAAP guidelines, provided that they clearly identify those figures as not conforming to GAAP. Companies sometimes do so when they believe that the GAAP rules are not flexible enough to capture certain nuances about their operations. In that situation, they might provide specially-designed non-GAAP metrics, in addition to the other disclosures required under GAAP. Investors should be skeptical about non-GAAP measures, however, as they can sometimes be used in a misleading manner. The accountant strives to provide an accurate and impartial depiction of a company’s financial situation.

An accountant must act in the best interest of the account holder and/or business entity. An accounting standard is a common set of principles, standards, and procedures that define the basis of financial accounting policies and practices. The ultimate goal of GAAP is to ensure a company’s financial statements are complete, consistent, and comparable. 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.

Sponsored Projects & Research Procedures

The summary amounts are found in the Accounts Receivable control account and the details for each customer’s credit activity will be contained in the Accounts Receivable subsidiary ledger. A current asset bought or manufactured for the purpose of selling in order to generate revenue. This principle states presupposes that the parties remain honest in transactions. For example, potential lawsuits may be regarded as losses and are reported but potential gains from other sources are not. Since the late 1990s, the GAO has worked to place more information on its web site.

  • GAAP, it is certainly superior to the majority of the world’s standards.
  • Revenue is earned and recognized upon product delivery or service completion, without regard to the timing of cash flow.
  • Double entry is an accounting term stating that every financial transaction has equal and opposite effects in at least two different accounts.
  • An accounting period defines the length of time covered by a financial statement or operation.
  • A receipt is an official written record of a purchase or financial transaction.
  • You can compare your budget-to-actual figures online using year-to-date, period-to-date, or any other time frame.

While all businesses are not required to use GAAP, you may want to consider preparing your financial statements with theses principles. It must conform to certain accounting principles and must represent a fair picture of the financial situation of the company by producing a balance sheet and a profit and loss statement.

Business Operations

The GAO also serves as Congress’s investigative arm and provides analytical, investigative, and legal services in order to provide Congress with information to GENERAL ACCOUNTING DEFINITION use in creating policy and making decisions. Under the cash method of accounting, a journal entry is only recorded when cash has been exchanged for inventory.


In most cases, accountants use generally accepted accounting principles when preparing financial statements in the U.S. GAAP is a set of standards and principles designed to improve the comparability and consistency of financial reporting across industries. Accountants help businesses maintain accurate and timely records of their finances. Accountants are responsible for maintaining records of a company’s daily transactions and compiling those transactions into financial statements such as the balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash flows. Accountants also provide other services, such as performing periodic audits or preparing ad-hoc management reports.

4 Four Basic Terms Found In Financial Accounting

A measure of the inflow or increase in net assets generated by the sales made by a company. It is a reflection of the amounts brought into the company by the sales process during a specified period of time. In some ways, expenses are the opposite of revenues that measure the inflows or increases in net assets created by sales. Expense figures reflect outflows or decreases in net assets incurred in hopes of generating revenues. An expense can cause a reduction in assets, especially if cash is paid.

  • Publicly traded companies must comply with both SEC and GAAP requirements.
  • The business activities may be reported in short, distinct time intervals which may be weeks, months, quarters, a calendar year or fiscal year.
  • Merchants not only needed to track their records but sought to avoid bankruptcy as well.
  • A subsidiary is an expanded description of the object account, for example, Cash in Bank.FNB .
  • An enrolled agent is a finance professional legally permitted to represent people and businesses in Internal Revenue Service encounters.
  • IFRS is designed to provide a global framework for how public companies prepare and disclose their financial statements.

Without GAAP, comparing financial statements of different companies would be extremely difficult, even within the same industry, making an apples-to-apples comparison hard. Some companies may report both GAAP and non-GAAP measures when reporting their financial results.


OPEXs describe costs that arise from a company’s daily operations. Accounts receivable are sometimes called “trade receivables.” In most cases, accounts receivable derive from products or services supplied on credit or without an upfront payment. Accounting is the process of tracking and recording financial activity. People and businesses use the principles of accounting to assess their financial health and performance. Accounting also serves as a useful way for people and companies to honor their tax obligations. Conceptually, GAAP is more rules-based while IFRS is more guided by principles.

Accounting can be divided into several fields including financial accounting, management accounting, tax accounting and cost accounting. The recording of financial transactions, so that summaries of the financials may be presented in financial reports, is known as bookkeeping, of which double-entry bookkeeping is the most common system. Accounting information systems are designed to support accounting functions and related activities.

Professional accountants follow a set of standards known as the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles when preparing financial statements. That was incurred by an organization in hopes of generating revenues. To illustrate, assume that—at the end of a week—a local business pays its employees $12,000 for the work performed during the previous few days.