Matching Principle: Definition Using Example Explanation – Kanggu Skip to main content

Matching Principle: Definition Using Example Explanation

By 26 de junio de 2020febrero 13th, 2024No Comments

Overall, it’s a good idea to understand the matching principle for the purpose of day-to-day accounting. To better understand how this concept works in the real world, imagine the following matching principle example. Note that due to different rules for calculating profit for tax purposes and financial reporting purposes, these two figures can differ significantly for the same company. Accounting principles differ around the world, meaning that it’s not always easy to compare the financial statements of companies from different countries.

  1. In some cases, it will be necessary to conduct a systematic allocation of a cost across multiple reporting periods, such as when the purchase cost of a fixed asset is depreciated over several years.
  2. In this case, they report the commission in January because it is the payment month.
  3. If there is no cause-and-effect relationship, then charge the cost to expense at once.
  4. When you use the cash basis of accounting, the recordation of accounting transactions is triggered by the movement of cash.

According to the matching principle of accounting, the incomes or revenues of a particular period must be matched with the expenses of that particular period. For example, when the users use financial statements and see the cost of goods sold increases, they will note that the sales revenue should be increasing consistently. The concept is that the expenses of fixed assets should not be recorded imitatively when we purchase. Recording depreciation expenses and accruing liabilities as required by the matching principle can lead to adjustments in retained earnings on the balance sheet.

Hence, if a company purchases an elaborate office system for $252,000 that will be useful for 84 months, the company should report $3,000 of depreciation expense on each of its monthly income statements. Revenue is integral to a statement of profit and loss, also referred to as a statement of income or report on income. The matching principle is one of the basic underlying guidelines in accounting. The matching accounting matching principle definition principle directs a company to report an expense on its income statement in the period in which the related revenues are earned. Further, it results in a liability to appear on the balance sheet for the end of the accounting period. The matching principle is a fundamental accounting concept emphasizing the cause-and-effect relationship between expenses and related revenues in the same accounting period.

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Similarly, incurred expenses that have not yet been paid like employee wages or inventory purchases are accrued as liabilities on the balance sheet. As these liabilities are later paid off, the related expenses are matched against revenues. In the case of depreciation, the expense is recognized over the asset’s useful life rather than in the period in which the asset was acquired.


An example is an obligation to pay for goods or services received from a counterpart, while cash for them is to be paid out in a later accounting period when its amount is deducted from accrued expenses. Retained earnings represent the accumulated profits and losses of a company over time. When depreciation causes expenses to be higher than cash payments or liability accruals cause expenses to be recognized before outgoing cash flows, net income decreases. Lower net income leads to decreases in retained earnings on the balance sheet.

Unpaid period costs are accrued expenses (liabilities) to avoid such costs (as expenses fictitiously incurred) to offset period revenues that would result in a fictitious profit. An example is a commission earned at the moment of sale (or delivery) by a sales representative who is compensated at the end of the following week, in the next accounting period. It is deducted from accrued expenses in the next period to prevent it from otherwise becoming a fictitious loss when the rep is compensated. The matching principle requires that revenues and expenses be matched and recorded in the same accounting period.

One of the main expenses that must be matched with the earnings made from sales is the cost of any goods sold . Though the cost of goods is important, not every single expense https://business-accounting.net/ is categorized as directly relatable to the actual amount signifying earnings from sales. The salary expenses are the cost of services the company render from its staff.

Completeness is ensured by the materiality principle, as all material transactions should be accounted for in the financial statements. Revenue recognition refers to the accounting rules that determine when revenue should be recorded. Under accrual accounting, revenue is recognized when it is earned, not necessarily when cash is received.

Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)

For example, a company consumes electricity for the whole month of January, but pays its electricity bill in February. So if the company has been operating under “cash based accounting”, they may have recorded the expense in the month of February, as it has actually paid cash in February. But under “accruals accounting” the entity is bound to record the electricity expense for the month of January and not February, because the expense has originally been incurred in January. Not all costs and expenses have a cause and effect relationship with revenues. Hence, the matching principle may require a systematic allocation of a cost to the accounting periods in which the cost is used up.

It also facilitates the comparison of financial information across different companies. Accounting principles also help mitigate accounting fraud by increasing transparency and allowing red flags to be identified. The matching principle is similar to the accrual basis of accounting, which states that revenue and expenses are to be recognized as and when they are incurred, irrespective of whether cash is transferred. In order to apply the matching principle, management of a company is required to apply judgment to estimate the timing and amount of revenues and expenses. Prudence concept, which is a related accounting principle, requires companies not to overstate revenues, understate expenses, overstate assets and/or understate liabilities.

This principle ensures accurate and reliable financial reporting and is crucial in decision-making, investor evaluation, and regulatory compliance. The Matching principle is a fundamental accounting principle that requires a company to record expenses in the same period as the related revenues. The Matching principle is based on the idea that a company should only report income and expenses in the same accounting period in which they were incurred, regardless of when payment was made or received. It shares characteristics with accrued revenue (or accrued assets) with the difference that an asset to be covered latter are proceeds from a delivery of goods or services, at which such income item is earned. The related revenue item is recognized, while cash for them is to be received later when its amount is deducted from accrued revenues.

For example, the entire cost of a television advertisement that is shown during the Olympics will be charged to advertising expense in the year that the ad is shown. Upgrading to a paid membership gives you access to our extensive collection of plug-and-play Templates designed to power your performance—as well as CFI’s full course catalog and accredited Certification Programs. Over 1.8 million professionals use CFI to learn accounting, financial analysis, modeling and more.

All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly. Similarly, if a fee is earned for providing a service, the first test is to ensure that the service in question has been duly provided. If any goods have been sold in a particular period, the first test is to ensure that they have been delivered or otherwise placed at the disposal of the buyer. This means that all resources needed to earn this revenue have been used, all steps needed to earn this revenue have been taken, and there is no apparent reason for this revenue not being received by the business. If we include any revenue in a particular period, we should be sure of two key facts.

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