Generally accepted accounting principles, also called
concepts and standards, are needed to assure accounting
information is reliable, understandable, and comparable.
Official sources for these principles began with the
Institute of Certified Public Accounts
(AICPA), whose Accounting Principles Board issued 31
formal opinions. AICPA has been replaced by the
Financial Accounting Standards Board
Strongly independent and consisting of accounting
professionals from public, governmental, industrial, and
educational sectors, FASB has issued many Statements
of Financial Accounting Standards. A third authority,
the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), works
closely with the FASB. Both official standards and
practices generally followed by the profession are
summarized by this Learning Unit.
ACCOUNTING ENTITY CONCEPT An economic unit, which may be a person, business, government,
organization, or part thereof, is being accounted for.
GOING CONCERN CONCEPT
Until reasonable facts indicate otherwise, it is assumed that the accounting
entity will exist long enough to use assets and fulfill commitments.
Liquidation value may be ignored.
TIME PERIOD CONCEPT
To be useful, accounting information must be current and presented in equal,
understandable time units called accounting periods.
Income Statement and Balance Sheet accounts must be recorded at cost, as
evidenced by their objective fair market value at time of acquisition. Called
historical costs, these figures, to the dismay of some, are generally not
adjusted to current market value.
With accrual accounting, revenue is recorded when earned, and costs are
recorded when incurred. For a retailing business, point of sale easily
establishes when earned, for manufacturing and construction businesses, the
process is more complicated.
THE MATCHING PRINCIPLE
When determining income, expenses must be matched with the revenue they
To be reliable, accounting informa