accrual basis accounting

Definition

The most commonly used accounting method, which reports income when earned and expenses when incurred, as opposed to cash basis accounting, which reports income when received and expenses when paid. Under the accrual method, companies do have some discretion as to when income and expenses are recognized, but there are rules governing the recognition. In addition, companies are required to make prudent estimates against revenues that are recorded but may not be received, called a bad debt expense.

See also: List of Key Accounting Terms and Definitions at InvestorGuide.com.

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