To achieve basic objectives and implement fundamental qualities GAAP has four basic assumptions, four basic principles, and four basic constraints.
• Accounting Entity: assumes that the business is separate from its owners or other businesses. Revenue and expense should be kept separate from personal expenses. • Going Concern: assumes that the business will be in operation indefinitely. This validates the methods of asset capitalization, depreciation, and amortization. Only when liquidation is certain this assumption is not applicable. The business will continue to exist in the unforeseeable future. • Monetary Unit principle: assumes a stable currency is going to be the unit of record. The FASB accepts the nominal value of the US Dollar as the monetary unit of record unadjusted for inflation. • The Time-period principle implies that the economic activities of an enterprise can be divided into artificial time periods.
• Historical cost principle requires companies to account and report based on acquisition costs rather than fair market value for most assets and liabilities. This principle provides information that is reliable (removing opportunity to provide subjective and potentially biased market values), but not very relevant. Thus there is a trend to use fair values. Most debts and securities are now reported at market values. • Revenue recognition principle requires companies to record when revenue is (1) realized or realizable and (2) earned, not when cash is received. This way of accounting is called accrual basis accounting. • Matching principle. Expenses have to be matched with revenues as long as it is reasonable to do so. Expenses are recognized not when the work is performed, or when a product is produced, but when the work or the product actually makes its contribution to revenue. Only if no connection with revenue can be established, cost may be charged as expenses to the