Basic Accounting Principles and Guidelines
Since GAAP is founded on the basic accounting principles and guidelines, we can better understand GAAP if we understand those accounting principles. The table below lists the ten main accounting principles and guidelines together with a highly condensed explanation of each.
Basic Accounting Principle
| What It Means in Relationship to a Financial Statement
1. Economic Entity Assumption
| The accountant keeps all of the business transactions of a sole proprietorship separate from the business owner's personal transactions. For legal purposes, a sole proprietorship and its owner are considered to be one entity, but for accounting purposes they are considered to be two separate entities.
| 2. Monetary Unit Assumption
| Economic activity is measured in U.S. dollars, and only transactions that can be expressed in U.S. dollars are recorded.Because of this basic accounting principle, it is assumed that the dollar's purchasing power has not changed over time. As a result accountants ignore the effect of inflation on recorded amounts. For example, dollars from a 1960 transaction are combined (or shown with) dollars from a 2012 transaction.
| 3. Time Period Assumption
| This accounting principle assumes that it is possible to report the complex and ongoing activities of a business in relatively short, distinct time intervals such as the five months ended May 31, 2012, or the 5 weeks ended May 1, 2012. The shorter the time interval, the more likely the need for the accountant to estimate amounts relevant to that period. For example, the property tax bill is received on December 15 of each year. On the income statement for the year ended December 31, 2011, the amount is known; but for the income statement for the three months ended March 31, 2012, the amount was not known and an estimate had to be used.It is imperative that the time interval (or period of time) be shown in the heading of each income statement,...
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