Accounting Principles, Accounting Concepts and Conventions
Accounting Principles : Accounting is a language of the business. Financial statements prepared by the accountant communicate financial information to the various stakeholders for decision-making purpose. Therefore, it is important that financial statements prepared by different organizations should be prepared on uniform basis. Also there should be consistency over a period of time in the preparation of these financial statements. If every accountant starts following his own norms and notions for accounting of different items then there will be an utter confusion.
To avoid confusion and to achieve uniformity, accounting process is applied within the conceptual framework of ‘Generally Accepted Accounting Principles’ (GAAPs). The term GAAPs is used to describe rules developed for the preparation of the financial statements and are called concepts, conventions, postulates, principles etc. These GAAPs are the backbone of the accounting information system, without which the whole system cannot even stand erectly. These principles are the ground rules, which define the parameters and constraints within which accounting reports are generated. Accounting principles are basic norms and assumptions on which the whole accounting system has been developed and established. Accountant also adheres to various accounting standards issued by the regulatory authority for the standardization of accounting policies to be followed under specific circumstances. These conceptual frameworks, GAAPs and accounting standards are considered as the theory base of accounting.
Accounting is often called the language of business through which a business house communicates with the outside world. In order to make this language intelligible and commonly understood by all, it is necessary that it should be based on certain uniform scientifically laid down standards. These standards are termed as accounting principles.
Accounting principles have been defined as “the body of doctrines commonly associated with the theory and procedure of accounting, serving as an explanation of current practices and as a guide for the selection of conventions or procedures where alternatives exist”.
In short, accounting principles are guidelines to establish standards for sound accounting practices and procedures in reporting the financial status and periodic performance of a business. These principles can be classified into two categories (i) Accounting concepts; and (ii) Accounting conventions.
In Simple Language
“Accounting principles are a body of doctrines commonly associated with the theory and procedures of accounting serving as an explanation of current practices and as a guide for selection of conventions or procedures where alternatives exist.
Accounting principles must satisfy the following conditions:
- They should be based on real assumptions;
- They must be simple, understandable and explanatory;
- They must be followed consistently;
- They should be able to refect future predictions;
- They should be informational for the users.
Accounting concepts define the assumptions on the basis of which financial statements of a business entity are prepared. Certain concepts are perceived, assumed and accepted in accounting to provide a unifying structure and internal logic to accounting process. The word concept means idea or notion, which has universal application. Financial transactions are interpreted in the light of the concepts, which govern accounting methods. Concepts are those basic assumptions and conditions, which form the basis upon which the accountancy has been laid. Unlike physical science, accounting concepts are only result of broad consensus. These accounting concepts lay the foundation on the basis of which the accounting principles are formulated.
Accounting conventions emerge out of accounting practices, commonly known as accounting principles, adopted by various organizations over a period of time. These conventions are derived by usage and practice. The accountancy bodies of the world may change any of the convention to improve the quality of accounting information. Accounting conventions need not have universal application.
In the study material, the terms ‘accounting concepts’, ‘accounting principles’ and ‘accounting conventions’ have been used interchangeably to mean those basic points of agreement on which financial accounting theory and practice are founded.