Accrual Basis and Cash Basis Accounting

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Accrual Basis versus Cash Basis Accounting Summary Any good accountant knows that every business has different financial reporting needs. In order to better understand how to accurately record financial transactions for all kinds of businesses, it is important to know the two principle types of accounting. The first is accrual basis accounting, and the second is cash basis accounting. These two methods of accounting are based on two opposing ideas on when and how transactions are recorded, and each also possesses its own advantages and disadvantages. In the accrual basis method, transactions are always recorded immediately. This is true even for transactions where cash is not received or paid right away. In some businesses, supplies are bought or sales are made on credit. Sales made on credit typically are entered into an accounts receivable (when cash is owed to the company) or into an accounts payable (when cash is owed by the company). The accrual method works best for these businesses because revenues and expenses can be balanced at the end of every reporting period. They simply need to refer back to the account when cash is paid and make an adjustment entry. The accrual method is most notable for its accuracy in reporting transactions. Accountants must adhere to what is known as the generally accepted accounting principles or GAAP. The accrual method is GAAP compliant because it follows the revenue recognition principle which states that each financial transaction must be reported in the accounting period in which it occurs. On the other hand, the accrual method of accounting also has disadvantages because it does not measure cash flows as accurately as the cash method. However, because the accrual method observes GAAP, it is the more widely accepted method of accounting. As opposed to accrual basis accounting where all transactions are immediately

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