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Accounting Terms


default Business people studying English as a second language have specific language needs, and it’s crucial that these language students can express themselves clearly and unambiguously in their working lives. A basic knowledge of accounting terms is important for successful business negotiations.

Accounting; process of identifying, measuring, and reporting financial information of an entity

Accounting Equation; assets = liabilities + equity

Accounts Payable; money owed to creditors, vendors, etc.

Accounts Receivable; money owed to a business, i.e. credit sales

Accrual Accounting; a method in which income is recorded when it is earned and expenses are recorded when they are incurred, all independent of cash flow

Accruals; a list of expenses that have been incurred and expensed, but not paid or a list of sales that have been completed, but not yet billed

Amortization; gradual reduction of amounts in an account over time, either assets or liabilities

Asset; property with a cash value that is owned by a business or individual

Audit Trail; a record of every transaction, when it was done, by whom and where, used by auditors when validating the financial statement

Auditors; third party accountants who review an entity’s financial statements for accuracy and provide a statement to that effect

Balance Sheet; summary of a company’s financial status, including assets, liabilities, and equity

Bookkeeping; recording financial information

Budgeting; the process of assigning forecasted income and expenses to accounts, which amounts will be compared to actual income and expense for analysis of variances

Capital Stock; found in the equity portion of the balance sheet describing the number of shares sold to shareholders at a predetermined value per share, also called “common stock” or “preferred stock”

Capital Surplus; found in the equity portion of the balance sheet accounting for the amount shareholders paid that is greater or lesser than the “capital stock” amount

Capitalized Expense; expenses that are accumulated, not expensed as incurred, to be amortized over a period of time; i.e. the development cost of a new product

Chart of Accounts; a listing of a company’s accounts and their corresponding numbers

Cash-Basis Accounting; a method in which income and expenses are recorded when they are paid.

Cash Flow; a summary of cash received and disbursed showing the beginning and ending amounts

Closing the Books/Year End Closing; the process of reversing the income and expense for a fiscal or calendar year and netting the amount into “retained earnings”

Cost Accounting; a type of accounting that focuses on recording, defining, and reporting costs associated with specific operating functions

Credit; an account entry with a negative value for assets, and positive value for liabilities and equity.

Debit; an account entry with a positive value for assets, and negative value for liabilities and equity.

Departmental Accounting; separating operating divisions into their own sub entities on the income statement, showing individual income, expenses, and net profit by entity

Depreciation; recognizing the decrease in the value of an asset due to age and use

Dividends; amounts paid to shareholders out of current or retained earnings

Double-Entry Bookkeeping; system of accounting in which every transaction has a corresponding positive and negative entry (debits and credits)

Equity; money owed to the owner or owners of a company, also known as “owner’s equity”

Financial Accounting; accounting focused on reporting an entity’s activities to an external party; ie: shareholders

Financial Statement; a record containing the balance sheet and the income statement

Fixed Asset; long-term tangible property; building, land, computers, etc.

General Ledger; a record of all financial transactions within an entity

Goodwill; an intangible asset reflecting the value of an entity in excess of its tangible assets

Income Statement; a summary of income and expenses

Inventory; merchandise purchased for resale at a profit

Inventory Valuation; the method to set the book value of unsold inventory: i.e. “LIFO,” last in, first out; “FIFO,” first in, first out; “average,” an average cost over a given period, “last cost,” the cost based on the last purchase; “standard,” a “deemed” amount related to but not tied to a specific purchase, “serialized,” based on a uniquely identifiable serial number or character of each inventory item

Invoice; the original billing from the seller to the buyer, outlining what was purchased and the terms of sale, payment, etc.

Job Costing; system of tracking costs associated with a job or project (labor, equipment, etc) and comparing with forecasted costs

Journal; a record where transactions are recorded, also known as an “account”

Liability; money owed to creditors, vendors, etc

Liquid Asset; cash or other property that can be easily converted to cash

Loan; money borrowed from a lender and usually repaid with interest

Master Account; an account on the general ledger that subtotals the “subsidiary accounts” assigned to it; i.e. Cash might be the master account for a list of depository accounts at banks

Net Income; money remaining after all expenses and taxes have been paid

Non Cash Expense; recognizing the decrease in the value of an asset; i.e. depreciation and amortization

Non-operating Income; income generated from non-recurring transactions; ie: sale of an old building

Note; a written agreement to repay borrowed money; sometimes used in place of “loan”

Operating Income; income generated from regular business operations

Other Income; income generated from other than regular business operations, i.e. interest, rents, etc.

Payroll; a list of employees and their wages

Posting; the process of entering then permanently saving or “archiving” accounting data

Profit; see net income;

Profit/Loss Statement; see ;income statement.

Reconciliation; the process of matching one set of data to another; i.e. the bank statement to the check register, the accounts payable journal to the general ledger, etc.

Retained Earnings; the amount of net profit retained and not paid out to shareholders over the life of the business

Revenue; total income before expenses.

Shareholder Equity; the capital and retained earnings in an entity attributed to the shareholders

Single-Entry Bookkeeping; system of accounting in which transactions are entered into one account

Statement of Account; a summary of amounts owed to a vendor, lender, etc.

Subsidiary Accounts; the subaccounts that are totaled on the financial statement under “master accounts;” i.e. “Cash-ABC Bank” might be one of several subsidiary accounts that are subtotaled under “Cash”

Supplies; assets purchased to be consumed by the entity

Treasury Stock; shares purchased by the entity from shareholders, reducing shareholder equity

Write-down/Write-off; an accounting entry that reduces the value of an asset due to an impairment of that asset; i.e. the account receivable from the bankrupt customer