Matching principle What is the matching principle?

Matching Principle

If the company has $50,000 in sales in the month of December, the company will pay the commission of $5,000 next January. Depreciation is used to distribute the cost of the asset over its expected life span according to the matching principle. This matches costs to sales and therefore gives a more accurate representation of the business, but results in a temporary discrepancy between profit/loss and the cash position of the business. First, it minimizes the risk of misstating whether a business has generated a profit or loss in any given reporting period. This is particularly important when a firm generally operates near a breakeven level.

  • The matching principle is a part of the accrual accounting method and presents a more accurate picture of a company’s operations on the income statement.
  • Imagine, for example, that a company decides to build a new office headquarters that it believes will improve worker productivity.
  • The matching principle is not used in cash accounting, wherein revenues and expenses are only recorded when cash changes hands.
  • Accountants also use it when posting journal entries, as each entry must contain a debit and a credit.
  • This is because the salaries expense is matched to the revenues generated for the individual months.

When investors look at the financial statements of companies that accurately employ the Matching Principle, they look at reports that are connected and make sense. If the CapEx was expensed as incurred, the abrupt $100 million expense would distort the income statement in the current period — in addition to upcoming periods showing less CapEx spending.

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Designed to be used with accrual accounting, the matching principle is never used in cash accounting. When there is a direct cause and effect relationship present between the revenues and expenses, this principle will be easy to implement. However, there are times when this relationship might not be that straightforward.

Matching Principle

Depreciation matches the cost of purchasing fixed assets with revenues generated by them by spreading such costs over their expected useful life span. Deferred expense allows one to match costs of products paid out and not received yet. The pay period for hourly employees ends on March 28, but employees continue to earn wages through March 31, which are paid to them on April 4. The employer should record an expense in March for those wages earned from March 29 to March 31. For example, if the office costs $10 million and is expected to last 10 years, the company would allocate $1 million of straight-line depreciation expense per year for 10 years. The expense will continue regardless of whether revenues are generated or not.

Matching Principle for the Cost of Goods Sold

Similarly, if a company recognizes the same expense later than the appropriate time, it will result in higher net income. The matching principle is a common accounting concept or accounting principle. Under this, a company should report an expense in the income statement in the same period when it earns the revenue. Put it simply; a company must recognize expenses on the financial statements when it produces the revenue as a result of those expenses.

  • The business then disperses the $20 million in expenses over the ten-year period.
  • Instead of expensing this directly to rent, you will record it as prepaid rent.
  • It is important for the investors to also study the cash flow statement along with the income statement to get a holistic picture of the company’s operations.
  • Matching Principle is mostly concentrated on the Income Statement because it refers to the revenues and expenses.
  • There are times, however, when that connection is much less clear, and estimates must be taken.
  • There’s no way to tell if a larger space or better location improves revenue.
  • However, you don’t want to expense the entire amount in the month of January, since it will overstate expenses in January, while understating them for the subsequent months.

The policy is to pay 5% of revenues generated over the year, which is paid out in February of the following year. The matching principle works well when it is easy to relate to revenues and expenses. When corporations need to borrow funds, they typically sign a note payable with a financial institution and pay a percentage of interest on the amount that is owed. Chances are that the day the note is due will not fall exactly on the last day of the accounting period. If the accounting period ends before the note, or at least the interest payment, is due, then the accountant must compute the amount of interest that was accumulated during that period. Business expense categories such as prepaid expenses use the matching principle in similar fashion as depreciation.

Benefits of the matching principle

There are many instances in accounting in which you will need to use the matching principle. Some of those include when expenses and revenue will occur in different accounting periods, using inventory costing systems, accounting for accrued interest, and estimating future warranty claims. The matching principle is used in financial accounting to ensure that revenues and expenses are correctly matched in the period they occur. This helps to provide an accurate view of the company’s financial position and performance. The matching principle helps to normalize and smooth out the income statement. Otherwise, the company income statements would not make much sense if it were to recognize some of its revenues in one period and its related expenses in another.

When your business purchases a long-lived asset, such as a building or a piece of equipment, that asset will help you generate revenue for years to come. To match the expense of acquiring the asset with the revenue it generates, you gradually expense the cost of the asset over its useful life. When you’re dealing with a physical asset, this process is called depreciation; when it’s an intangible asset such as a patent, it’s called amortization.


Doing so makes better use of the accountant’s time, and has no material impact on the financial statements. Another example would be if a company were to spend $1 million on online marketing . It may not be able to track the timing of the revenue that comes in, as customers may take months or years to make a purchase. In such a case, the marketing expense would appear on the income statement during the time period the ads are shown, instead of when revenues are received. In most places, financial transactions including both revenues and expenses must be recorded in the general ledger according to standard accounting guidelines.

What is a ledger in accounts?

An accounting ledger is an account or record used to store bookkeeping entries for balance-sheet and income-statement transactions. Accounting ledger journal entries can include accounts like cash, accounts receivable, investments, inventory, accounts payable, accrued expenses, and customer deposits.

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. If there is no cause-and-effect relationship, then charge the cost to expense at once.

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In most cases there are only two things accountants need to know in order get started with the principle, namely revenues and expenses. It can take a bit of expertise to isolate and allocate each of these, especially in more complex corporate settings, but once they’ve been set apart getting started is relatively straightforward.

Matching Principle

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