Accounting concepts and conventions
This concept is the underlying assumption that any accountant makes when he prepares a set of accounts. That the business under consideration will remain in existence for the foreseeable future. In addition to being an old concept of accounting, it is now, for example, part of UK statute law: reference to it can be found in the Companies Act 1985. Without this concept, accounts would have to be drawn up on the 'winding up' basis. That is, on what the business is likely to be worth if it is sold piecemeal at the date of the accounts. The winding up value would almost certainly be different from the going concern value shown. Such circumstances as the state of the market and the availability of finance are important considerations here.
Otherwise known as the matching principle. The purpose of this concept is to make sure that all revenues and costs are recorded in the appropriate statement at the appropriate time. Thus, when a profit statement is compiled, the cost of goods sold relevant to those sales should be recorded accurately and in full in that statement. Costs concerning a future period must be carried forward as a prepayment for that period and not charged in the current profit statement. For example, payments made in advance such as the prepayment of rent would be treated in this way. Similarly, expenses paid in arrears must, although paid after the period to that they relate, also be shown in the current period's profit statement: by means of an accruals adjustment.
Because the methods employed in treating certain items within the accounting records may be varied from time to time, the concept of consistency has come to be applied more and more rigidly. For example, because there can be no single rate of depreciation chargeable on all fixed assets, every business has potentially a lot of discretion over the precise rate it chooses to use. However, if it wishes, a business may vary the rates at which it charges depreciation and alter the profits it reports at the same time. Consider the effects on profit of charging depreciation at 15% this year on £10,000 worth of fixed assets and then charging depreciation at 10% next year on the same £10,000 worth of fixed assets. This year you would charge £1,500 against profits and next year it would be only £1,000, using the straight line method of providing for depreciation.
Because of these sorts of effects, it is now accepted practice that when a company chooses to treat items such as depreciation in a particular way in the accounts it should go on using that method year after year. If it is NECESSARY to change the method being employed or the rates being charged then an explanation of the change and the effects it is having on the results must be shown as a note to the accounts being presented.
Otherwise known as conservatism. It is this concept more than any other that has given rise to the idea that accountants are pessimistic boring people!! Basically the concept says that whenever there are alternative procedures or values, the accountant will choose the one that results in a lower profit, a lower asset value and a higher liability value. The concept is summarised by the well known phrase 'anticipate no profit and provide for all possible losses'. Thus, undue optimism can never be part of the make up of an accountant! The danger is that if an optimistic view of profits is given then dividends may be paid out of profits that have not been earned.
The objectivity concept requires an accountant to draw up any accounts, and further analysis, only on the basis of objective and factual information. Thus, this concept attempts to ensure that if, for example, 100 accountants were to draw up a set of accounts for one business, there would be 100 identical accounting...
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