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Definition of ACCRUAL



A method of accounting in which you record expenses when you incur them and sales as you make them—not when you pay bills or receive checks in the mail.


An expense for profit purposes even though no payment has been made.

Related Terms:

Accrual bond

A bond on which interest accrues, but is not paid to the investor during the time of accrual.
The amount of accrued interest is added to the remaining principal of the bond and is paid at maturity.

Accruals accounting

A method of accounting in which profit is calculated as the difference between income when it is earned and expenses when they are incurred.

accrual-basis accounting

Well, frankly, accrual is not a good descriptive
term. Perhaps the best way to begin is to mention that accrual-basis
accounting is much more than cash-basis accounting. Recording only the
cash receipts and cash disbursement of a business would be grossly
inadequate. A business has many assets other than cash, as well as
many liabilities, that must be recorded. Measuring profit for a period as
the difference between cash inflows from sales and cash outflows for
expenses would be wrong, and in fact is not allowed for most businesses
by the income tax law. For management, income tax, and financial
reporting purposes, a business needs a comprehensive record-keeping
system—one that recognizes, records, and reports all the assets and liabilities
of a business. This all-inclusive scope of financial record keeping
is referred to as accrual-basis accounting. accrual-basis accounting
records sales revenue when sales are made (though cash is received
before or after the sales) and records expenses when costs are incurred
(though cash is paid before or after expenses are recorded). Established
financial reporting standards require that profit for a period
must be recorded using accrual-basis accounting methods. Also, these
authoritative standards require that in reporting its financial condition a
business must use accrual-basis accounting.

Accrual accounting

The recording of revenue when earned and expenses when
incurred, irrespective of the dates on which the associated cash flows occur.

Capitalized Cost An expenditure or accrual that is reported as an asset to be amortized against

future-period revenue.

Acid-test ratio

Also called the quick ratio, the ratio of current assets minus inventories, accruals, and prepaid
items to current liabilities.


Z bond

Also known as an accrual bond or accretion bond; a bond on which interest accretes interest but is not
paid currently to the i nvestor but rather is accrued, with accrual added to the principal balance of the Z and
becoming payable upon satisfaction of all prior bond classes.

Current liabilities

Amounts due and payable by the business within a period of 12 months, e.g. bank overdraft, creditors and accruals.


See accruals accounting.

cash flow from operating activities, or cash flow from profit

This equals the cash inflow from sales during the period minus the cash
outflow for expenses during the period. Keep in mind that to measure
net income, generally accepted accounting principles require the use of
accrual-basis accounting. Starting with the amount of accrual-basis net
income, adjustments are made for changes in accounts receivable,
inventories, prepaid expenses, and operating liabilities—and depreciation
expense is added back (as well as any other noncash outlay
expense)—to arrive at cash flow from profit, which is formally labeled
cash flow from operating activities in the externally reported statement
of cash flows.

double-entry accounting

See accrual-basis accounting.

Big Bath

A wholesale write-down of assets and accrual of liabilities in an effort to make the
balance sheet particularly conservative so that there will be fewer expenses to serve as a drag on future earnings.

Bill and Hold Practices

Products that have been sold with an explicit agreement that delivery
will occur at a later, often yet-to-be-determined, date.
Capitalize To report an expenditure or accrual as an asset as opposed to expensing it and charging it against earnings currently.


To report an expenditure or accrual as an asset as opposed to expensing it and
charging it against earnings currently.

Cookie Jar Reserves

An overly aggressive accrual of operating expenses and the creation of
liability accounts done in an effort to reduce future-year operating expenses.


Creative Acquisition Accounting

The allocation to expense of a greater portion of the price
paid for another company in an acquisition in an effort to reduce acquisition-year earnings and
boost future-year earnings. Acquisition-year expense charges include purchased in-process research
and development and an overly aggressive accrual of costs required to effect the acquisition.

Restructuring Charge

A special, nonrecurring charge taken in conjunction with a consolidation
or relocation of operations, or the disposition or abandonment of operations or productive
assets. Such charges may include impairment losses as well as other expenses, such as writedowns
of other assets including accounts receivable and inventory, and accruals of liabilities for
so-called exit costs, including such expenses as lease terminations, closure costs, severance pay,
benefits, and retraining.







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