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Understanding the Expense Recognition Principle: What it is and Why it Matters

Finance BY Shahanawaz
Understanding the Expense Recognition Principle

The expense recognition principle is like any other small element in the accounting process. But, meddling with this small amount can result in a financial blunder.

When incorrect expense recognition is taken, it can lead to incorrect financial results and a horrifying balance sheet.

So, I made the point on how important the expense recognition principle is. But what does it mean? The expense recognition principle allows businesses to determine the ROI for any expenses. This GAAP-approved accounting principle also dictates when a business should recognize expenses.

If you want a clear idea of what the expense recognition principle is, then I will suggest going through this article.

What Is Expense Recognition Principle?

What Is Expense Recognition Principle

A key purpose of business is to spend money from where you get some amount in return. But how do you determine if the passage you are spending money on will return something back? The answer lies in expense recognition.

The expense recognition principle is an accounting tool. Business owners use them to identify expenses and any revenue connected to that expenses. The calculation using this principle will allow the owners to plan their expenses and investments and maximize the ROI.

The revenue recognition principle states that business owners must acknowledge any expense and the revenue from those expenses at the same time period. Let’s make it easier and more understandable with an example.

For instance, suppose your company has purchased toys worth $6000 and sells them at $10000, making $4000 in profit. So, according to the expense recognition principle, your business has to recognize both the expense of $6000 and the revenue of $10000 at the same time.

If a company does not incur any expense, it does not have the prospect of making any profit. The process helps standardize a company’s financial data documentation, maintaining profits and the accuracy of financial statements. More so, it helps businesses avoid tax penalties.

Where Does the Expense Recognition Principle Come From?

Where Does the Expense Recognition Principle Come From_

The US GAAP follows some of the best accounting practices. The expense recognition principle is a part of the matching principle. It is a pillar of the U.S. GAAP. Businesses following the accrual accounting principle follow the matching principle.

But, remember that the expense recognition principle does not apply to businesses that use cash accounting. For cash accounting, business owners will record the expenses and the ROI only during cash inflow or outflow.

How Does the Expense Recognition Principle Work?

How Does the Expense Recognition Principle Work_

This principle allows businesses to determine how and when to recognize all the expenses that appear during the accounting period. When the work has already been done, but you have not paid for it yet, this will get booked as an expense.

It will also get accrued as a liability. On the other hand, if you have already spent some money and did not receive the benefit yet, you have to book it as an asset ( a prepaid expense.)

Expense Recognition Principle Example

The main objective here is to meet your business’s expenses and revenue expenses during the same accounting period. Here is another example –

Let’s say that your company purchased $50000 worth of raw materials for shoe manufacturing in May. You can use all your raw materials through May and June, and by the end of July, you will sell off all of your complete products.

You should note that you did not record the expense yet. The reason is – you have yet to earn from those raw materials by finishing them as complete products and selling them off in the market. Once you sell off all the products, you can earn around $100000.

When you sell them off, you have to calculate the expenses and the revenue made through them during this accounting period. In this case, the only expense incurred during this accounting period is the expense related to the raw material. But in reality, you will have other expenses such as the operating cost and more.

Expense Recognition Methods

Expense Recognition Methods

You can use three of the most common methods for expense recognition principle calculation –

Immediate Recognition

The immediate method for expense recognition allows you to recognize the expense right at the moment it incurs. This method works well for fixed periodic expenses. You can immediately recognize expenses such as rent payments, selling costs, utility bill payments, and the like.

Also, you must recognize these expenses immediately after the expenses incurred, not on any future date. Those expenses will get automatically associated with the revenue generated during that time.

Systematic & Rational Allocation 

Some business-related expenses clearly contribute to the revenue generated. But it is difficult to calculate them against the revenue. For example, businesses often purchase equipment that contributes to manufacturing new product units. This generates sales and revenue in the process.

However, you cannot recognize the total expense caused by the machine every time it generates an amount in revenue. That is when you use the systematic & rational allocation method. This way, you can depreciate the machinery and attach the expense throughout different accounting periods during its useful life.

Cause & Effect 

The most prevalent expense recognition method is the cause-and-effect recognition method. In this method, you will recognize the expense and record the revenue generated by it in the same period. For this method to work, you must set up a clear link between expenses and revenue.

Why Is The Expense Recognition Principle Important? 

Why Is The Expense Recognition Principle Important_

When calculating your business’s financial health, the expense recognition principle takes a critical role. Here are some reasons why it is important –

  • Recognizing expenses of any sort allows businesses to create accurate financial statements. This allows them to not misstate the income or cash flow statement. In the process, it prevents the creation of wrong financial statements.
  • Misstatement of the revenue and the income creates penalties and tax burdens. A little mistake with the expense recognition can affect taxes and penalties.
  • Recognizing expense is at the centre of the determination process for a business’ accounting approach.
  • Expense recognition helps create transparency in financial statements.

Wrapping It Up

Expense recognition Principles are one of the small yet key elements for an accurate accounting process. Businesses can easily understand their ROI from expense recognition during any given accounting period.

Hopefully, you have found all the necessary information about the topic discussed in this article. However, if you want us to answer similar queries through our blogs, please bring your comments to the box below.

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Shahnawaz is a passionate and professional Content writer. He loves to read, write, draw and share his knowledge in different niches like Technology, Cryptocurrency, Travel,Social Media, Social Media Marketing, and Healthcare.

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