Difference Between Cash Accounting and Accrual Accounting

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Cash Accounting and Accrual Accounting

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Accrual Accounting and Cash Accounting are only those transactions linked to money documented and acknowledged in every firm. The cash system of accounting and the accrual system of accounting are the two accounting systems that are used to recognize transactions. The fundamental difference between the two approaches to an entity's bookkeeping is timing; with cash accounting, the recording is done when there is a cash input or outflow. In accrual accounting, on the other hand, income and cost are recorded as soon as they occur.

Companies have two basic accounting techniques to select from cash and accrual. The proverb "time is important" encapsulates the most significant distinction. When cash enters or exits a business, cash accounting records the events on the financial statements. Regardless of when money is exchanged, accrual accounting records revenue when it is collected and expenditures when they are incurred. The discrepancy in time reverberates through the company's income statements and balance sheet, affecting its tax burden.

Accounting transactions are created when cash is received or paid in a cash accounting system. In contrast, transactions are recorded as and when the amount is due in an accrual accounting system. Take a look at this article to break down the differences between cash and accrual accounting. Each strategy does have its own unique strengths and weaknesses. The cash technique, in particular, is more straightforward. GAAP, or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, is a collection of accounting standards issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which are a different story. Only accept the accrual basis (FASB). Therefore, it may be simple to determine which strategy is the most excellent match depending on a company's conditions.

Cash Accounting vs. Accrual Accounting

In the realm of accounting, the cash basis and the accrual basis are the two techniques for documenting accounting transactions. The accrual basis is built on anticipating expenditures and revenues, whereas the cash basis technique requires prompt recognition of any expenses or revenues.

In other words, when money changes hands between two parties participating in a transaction, the cash basis of accounting recognizes the expenditures paid and revenues made right away. But on the other hand, expenses are recognized when they are invoiced (not paid), and revenues are recognized when collected, according to the accrual method of accounting.

Small firms use the cash foundation of accounting, whereas major organizations and publicly listed companies choose the accrual method of accounting. When a consumer makes a payment, the firm records it as revenue. When it pays vendors, it keeps track of expenditures. Finally, the resultant net income is used to compute taxes.

There is no need to account for client sales made on credit (i.e., accounts receivable) until they pay on a cash basis. Similarly, no bookkeeping is necessary unless the firm pays for purchases made on credit (i.e., accounts payable or accumulated costs). The cash-basis accounting approach is a simple way to figure out a company's cash situation.

Difference Between Cash Accounting and Accrual Accounting in Tabular Form

As we have learned about the meaning and definition, now look at the distinctions between the two. The cash basis of accounting and the accrual basis of accounting.

DEFINITION The accounting principle is that any revenue or cost is recorded whenever there is a cash inflow or outflow. The accounting principle is that any revenue or cost is recorded when generated or incurred, regardless of when it is paid or received.
NATURE The nature of the cash foundation is straightforward. The nature of the accrual foundation is complicated.
SYSTEM FOLLOWED The cash basis of accounting uses a standard entry method to record cash inflows and outflows. It uses a double-entry accounting system, in which each transaction has two outcomes: debit and credit.
FINANCIAL STATEMENT The income statement reveals a decrease in earnings. The income statement will reflect a more significant revenue than usual.
RECOGNITION According to the Companies Act, this approach is not recognized. As per the Companies Act, this is a recognized approach.
INCOME VARIATION STATEMENT Underneath the cash basis of accounting, the income statement will reflect a lesser revenue. The accrual approach of accounting will result in greater wage levels on the financial statements.
MONITORING FINANCIAL STATEMENT Financial statements prepared on the cash foundation of accounting cannot be audited. Only financial statements generated on the accrual system of accounting can be audited.
APPROPRIATE FOR The micro to small firms can use the cash basis of accounting. Large organizations benefit from the accrual foundation of accounting.
RECOGNITION OF  EXPENSE The payment is made in cash. A cost is incurred.

What Is Cash Accounting?

The accounting foundation is where revenues and costs are recognized only when accurate cash receipts or disbursements have occurred. In this system, revenue or cost is recognized when a cash inflow or outflow occurs in the actual world. The approach is most commonly used by sole traders, contractors, and other specialists who recognize revenue when money comes in and record costs when money leaves.

Furthermore, Cash Accounting does not need extensive accounting expertise; anybody with a basic understanding of bookkeeping may use this approach to keep records. The simplicity with which Taxes and reductions are possible is one of the most significant advantages of cash accounting. However, the GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and IFRS (International Financial Reporting Framework) do not advocate the procedure owing to a variety of problems, including:

  • It is incompatible with the idea of matching.
  • In Between the moment, a transaction is made, and the time it is completed, the time it is acknowledged, there is a time lag.
  • It is inaccurate.

Cash Accounting can be practical in the following ways:

A large corporation cannot use cash basis accounting. But what kinds of businesses are capable of adhering to this accounting? When will this accounting be sufficient, in simple terms? There are a few requirements that are to be met for this accounting to be sufficient -

  • When you own a small business as a sole proprietorship or a partnership, you only need to keep track of a few financial transactions and only have a few employees.
  • You don't need to keep track of income statements, balance sheets, or any other financial statements as a business.
  • You never do business on credit as a firm. Every transaction (or at least the majority) is made in cash.
  • You also have a slight amount of fixed capital.

For Example: Let's assume Company MNC owns a significant piece of machinery that has been in service for a few years. Every year, the firm depreciates this machinery by $4000 in wear and tear so that after several years of operation, it may be replaced by modern equipment.

This depreciation would not be reported as an expenditure under cash basis accounting. It wouldn't be reported because depreciation charges aren't paid in cash and are non-cash expenses.

What Is Accrual Accounting?

The foundation of current accounting is accrual accounting. It's also known as the commercial method of accounting, in which transactions take place as they happen. According to this system, revenues are recognized when earned, and costs are acknowledged when they are spent.

The matching principle states that the expenses of a particular accounting system should be matched with its revenue. This condition is met by the accrual foundation of accounting, which is why it is viewed as a valuable instrument for documenting revenues and payments. Some things, however, must be changed after the fiscal year, such as:

  • Unearned Earnings
  • Income that has been earned
  • Prepaid expenses
  • Exceptional Expenses

Most businesses choose this strategy because it provides information on previous revenue and cost transactions, but it also forecasts cash collections and disbursements that will occur in the future. Aside from that, one of the critical disadvantages of accrual accounting is that it requires the corporation to pay tax on income that has not yet been received. Both generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and international financial reporting standards support the accrual foundation of accounting (IFRS). These accounting frameworks offer guidance on accounting for revenue and expenditure transactions when there are no cash receipts or payments to trigger the recording of a transaction under the cash foundation of accounting.

Types of Accrual Accounts

Various accounts are utilized on the accrual method of accounting but are not used on a cash basis. Accounts receivable, payable, accumulated revenue, and accrued liabilities are examples of these accounts. Accounts receivable refers to sums invoiced to customers for which payment has yet to be received. In contrast, accounts payable refers to amounts billed by suppliers for which payment has yet to be received. The accumulated revenue account comprises sums that have been generated but have not yet been invoiced to consumers. Finally, the accumulated liabilities account holds monies that have not yet been billed by suppliers but for which products or services have already been supplied.

Some Examples of Accrual Accounting

In some instances, the accrual approach necessitates the use of estimations. A corporation should, for example, record an item of expenditure for predicted bad debts that have yet to be incurred. By doing so, all expenditures associated with a revenue transaction are recorded simultaneously as the revenue, resulting in an income statement that accurately reflects the business's results. Similarly, product returns, sales allowances, and obsolete inventories may be assessed and documented. These forecasts, however, may not be totally correct, resulting in substantially incorrect financial statements. As a result, extreme caution must be exercised while calculating accumulated expenditures.

The main point of distinction between Cash Accounting and Accrual Accounting

The primary distinctions between cash accounting and accrual accounting are as follows:

  • Revenue and costs are recognized and recorded as they occur under accrual accounting, but cash basis accounting does not capture these line items until cash is exchanged.
  • Although cash basis accounting is more straightforward, accrual accounting provides a more realistic picture of a company's health since it includes accounts due and receivable.
  • Because it smooths out results over time, the accrual technique is the most generally employed approach, especially by publicly listed corporations.
  • Another Distinction between the two techniques is that the cash basis is easier to apply. It doesn't require accruals, so it's easy to use even if you don't know anything about accounting. The accrual foundation of accounting, on the other hand, necessitates a working grasp of accounting concepts.
  • The income statement in cash accounting displays smaller income, but the income statement in accrual accounting shows significantly larger income.
  • Cash Accounting is not following the matching notion, but Accrual Accounting fully embraces it.
  • Cash accounting is based on the actual receiving and cash payments. In accrual accounting, on the other hand, revenue or cost is recognized as it occurs.
  • Accrual accounting has a higher degree of precision than cash accounting, which has a far lower degree of accuracy.
  • Cash accounting is appropriate for individual proprietors and independent contractors. Large businesses, on the other hand, should use accrual accounting.


A fundamental distinction between the systems is that financial statements prepared by a company operating on a cash basis may create deceptive results. This is because the company may wait until the end of the reporting period to pay its suppliers, resulting in a more significant cash balance (and better financial health) than is the case. This implies that someone may mistakenly believe that the organization's finances are strong when they are not. In the opposite case, a corporation may fail to register sales because it has not yet received the cash connected with them, resulting in reduced reported sales and profits, indicating that the company is struggling. In reality, it is successful.

The significant difference between cash accounting and accrual accounting is the time it takes to recognize revenue and expenditure. The former is favored by small businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and other organizations, but large corporations choose the latter since transactions occur quickly. The second distinction is that organizations that keep records on a cash-based accounting system benefit from tax benefits. Still, entities that use an accrual system must pay tax on income that has yet to be earned.


  • https://www.netsuite.com/portal/resource/articles/financial-management/cash-basis-accrual-basis.shtml
  • https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/09/accrual-accounting.asp


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"Difference Between Cash Accounting and Accrual Accounting." Diffzy.com, 2024. Thu. 29 Feb. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-cash-accounting-and-accrual-accounting-54>.

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