Basic Accounting Concepts

The fundamental ideas or basic concepts of accounting underlying the theory and practice of financial accounting and broad working rules for all accounting activities, developed by professionals are listed and discussed below.

Basic Accounting Concepts

  1. Business Entity Concept
  2. Money Measurement Concept
  3. Going Concern Concept
  4. Accounting Period Concept
  5. Dual Aspect (or Duality) Concept

These concepts are the foundation of systematic and proper accounting. Every business enterprise must adopt these concepts, popularly known as pillars upon which the sound structure of accounting stands. Let us discuss these basic concepts:

Business Entity Concept

In accounts, we distinguish between the business and its proprietors. Business is assumed to have distinct entity i.e., existence other than the existence of its proprietors and other business units. As an accountant, we are concerned with the business not the businessman.

We have to record business transactions from firm’s point of view and never from the viewpoint of proprietors. We record transactions in the books of shop, establishment, factory, firm, company and enterprise and never in the books of proprietor, partners and shareholders. While making decisions regarding asset, liability, capital, revenue and expense, business viewpoint is taken into consideration.

The capital introduced by the proprietor in its own business is considered liability from business point of view. It will not be a liability if proprietor’s viewpoint is taken. The logic behind treatment of capital as liability is that the firm has borrowed funds from its own proprietors instead of borrowing it from outside parties.

It would have been a liability if the funds would have been borrowed from outside agency, then why not, if it is being invested by the proprietor himself. We also allow interest on capital to the proprietors because capital is supposed to be a liability.

Interest on capital is an expense of the business, therefore, it will reduce the profit of the firm. It is at the same time proprietor’s claim against the business, so it will increase him capital. Amount withdrawn by the proprietor for personal use, known as drawings is assumed to be the assets of the business and at the same time a liability to the proprietor.

The business as a distinct entity records all business transaction into the books of accounts and reports the result to the proprietor in case of sole trade, partners in case of partnership firms and shareholders in case of company. There is a legal divorce between the ownership and management of a company.

The company is owned by shareholders by managed by the elected representatives of the shareholders i.e., directors. Accounts are prepared by the management and a copy of the financial statements is supplied to the shareholders, the owners of the company for information. Every accountant whether he is concerned with a petty shop or a firm or a company or a big business house will have to compulsorily adopt the concept of business entity in his accounting operations.

Legally, a sole proprietor or the partner of a partnership firm are not separate from their business units but in Accounting the business units are assumed to have distinct entity. Accounting entity is different from business entity. Accounting entity is wider term including business, clubs, institutions, public enterprises, local bodies and government, etc.

Money Measurement Concept

In accounting, we identify and record only those business transactions which are financial in nature. Accounting transactions must have their monetary value. The worth of the transaction must be measured in terms of money. In all the accounting records, we have amount column showing rupees and paise.

There is never any accounting record in metres, litres, kilograms and quintals. We evaluate the value of the commodities in terms of money and accordingly record them in the books of accounts. Recording transactions in monetary terms makes the information more meaningful.

For example, statement that the business was started with Rs. 50,000 cash and 20,000 metres of silk is meaningless and fails to tell us the capital of the business. If the value of 20,000 metres of silk is estimated to be Rs. 5,00,000, we can safely say that the business was started with Rs. 50,000 + 5,00,000 = 5,50,000, which will be meaningful.

The concept of money measurement is not free from problems when we integrate the financial statements of an entity having operations in more than one nation.

Going Concern Concept

While recording business transactions in the books of accounts, we assume that the business will be carried on indefinitely. That is why, the business purchases fixed assets like land and building, plant and machinery, vehicles, furniture, etc.

If the concept of going concern is not there, we would have hired these assets and not purchased. These assets have been acquired for use and not for sale, so we maintain individual assets account and charge necessary depreciation on it.

According to International Accounting Standard “The enterprise is normally viewed as a going concern, that is as continuing in operation for the foreseable future”.

It is viewed that the enterprise has an intention to be carried on for longer period. The concept of assets, liabilities, capital, revenue and expenses used in the accounting operation prove that the firm has to last long. Planning, organizing and personnel policies substantiate the fact that the business has been assumed to be going entity. It is binding upon every accountant to treat business activity as a continuing process and record transaction accordingly.

Accounting Period Concept

Strictly speaking, the result of the business can be estimated at the end of its life. If a firm was started with a capital of 50,000 and at the end of its life the capital was 5,00,000 we can say that the firm earned a profit of ` 4,50,000 i.e., 5,00,000 – 50,000 during its life.

In this way, business as a going entity will continue indefinitely and we will have to wait for a very long period to estimate the financial result of the business. It will be too late to wait for the results, so the life span of accounting should be split into shorter and convenient period. At present, accounting periods are regarded as twelve months.

According to the Companies Act and Banking Regulation Act, accounting period should consist of twelve months. The period of twelve months is regarded as ideal and convenient period for accounting.

Dual Aspect (or Duality) Concept

Every business transaction has double effect. There are two sides of every transaction. This is evident when we study the accounting term i.e., assets, capital and liabilities.

  • Assets: These are the valuable articles owned by the business. Expenditure incurred in acquiring valuable things for the firm is assets. Special features of assets are that they are meant for use in the business and will increase the profit earning capacity of the business.

    Cash in hand, cash at bank, land and buildings, furniture, vehicles, etc. are the assets of the firm. It has been an established fact that no business can be carried on without assets. Business as a separate entity and going concern must possess certain assets.


  • Capital: Capital is that part of wealth which is used for further production. In the context of dual aspect concept capital supplies necessary funds to the business to purchase certain assets. In the absence of capital, there will be no funds with the enterprise and thus the question of acquiring assets does not arise. If we take it from business point of view, proprietor’s capital is the liability of the business.

    Capital received in cash represents two accounts, capital and cash. Capital is the proprietor’s claim against the assets of the business and the cash is the asset of the business itself. As the amount of the two accounts are the same, we can safely conclude that: Capital = Assets


  • Liabilities: If the capital invested by the proprietor falls short the business has to borrow funds. Thus the loan on the one side is the liability of the firm and on the other side it will be in the form of cash or other assets. The amount represented by both loan and assets are equal. This transaction enables us to think about the two aspects so it is called dual aspect concept or double entry system. All the assets of the business are acquired by the funds contributed by the funds contributed by the proprietors and creditors, so it is always correct to conclude as under: Capital = Liabilities = Assets

The relationship between assets, liabilities and capital is at present known as Accounting Equation which can also be expressed as under :

Assets = Capital + Liabilities
or
Capital = Assets – Liabilities
or
Liabilities = Assets – Capital

We record all the business transactions on the basis of dual aspect and call the system as double entry system

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