7 Differences Explained on Cash Basis vs Accrual Basis

accrual basis vs cash basis accounting

We discussed accrual basis and cash basis in detail in our earlier posts, but today we will discuss the differences on a cash basis vs. accrual basis. In cash basis accounting, the transaction is accounted for only after the cash is received. On the other hand, On an accrual basis accounting, the transaction is recorded when the transaction is initiated, but the cash is not in hand.

But these are only the basic differences between cash basis and accrual basis. In this post, we will be learning about some major key differences that will help you choose between both types of accounting.

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Differences between Cash Basis vs. Accrual Basis Accounting

FactorCash BasisAccrual Basis
ImplementationIt is easy to implement cash basis accountingImplementing Accrual basis accounting is not that easy as compared to the cash basis.
AccuracyCash basis accounting is not accurate; the IRS restricts the use of Cash basis accounting.The accrual basis of accounting is accurate and widely used.
TaxesTax is to be paid as the transaction is made and cash is received.Tax is to be paid though the cash is not received. Meaning, Tax is to be paid in the financial year when the transaction is actually incurred.
UsageSmall businesses and individuals use it as they don’t have many transactions that can create a fuss in the future.Used by corporates, bigger companies, and high revenue firms.
HealthCash basis may overstate the health of the company. This is because it shows the status based on current financial conditions.Accrual basis helps to accurately estimate the company’s health as it includes the businesses shortly.
Short-TermPictures the short-term of the companyIt is great for long-term analysis of the company.
Overall DecisionThe overall decision cannot be determined as the income and expenses are on a day-to-day basis. It cannot bring enough confidence in investors.Investors get enough confidence in their decision to see the overall picture and for a time period.
Cash Basis Accounting vs Accrual Basis of Accounting

Let us now discuss each difference individually,

Here is a brief explanation of each difference between the accrual basis of accounting and the cash basis of accounting.

1. Implementation

Implementing cash basis accounting is easy in comparison to the accrual basis of accounting. This is because a cash basis is a day-to-day transaction. On the other hand, the accrual basis is difficult to implement as it takes enough time to look at invoices and accounts for each transaction till the payment is received.

2. Accuracy

Cash-based accounting is not accurate; each transaction is only accounted for when the cash is received. On the other hand, in accrual basis accounting, the transaction is accounted for when it occurs, keeping the books accurate. It also pictures the longer financial health of the company which we will discuss in forthcoming points.

3. Taxes

In the accrual basis of accounting, the tax is to be paid for the financial year when the transaction is incurred. On the other hand, the cash basis accounting tax is paid when the amount is received.

Suppose I manufacture steel bars and a client has bought 1000 pieces from me. The condition of this transaction is, the amount is due in the next financial year. If I am using the accrual basis of accounting, I have to pay the tax on this amount in this financial year though it is to be received later. But if my firm uses cash-based accounting, I have to pay the tax in the year I receive the money.

4. Usage

Cash basis accounting is for small businesses and individuals. These include businesses that generate income less than $25 Million or generate fewer accounting transactions. This is because a cash basis is easy to implement in smaller businesses, and though not being accurate, it can still work for you.

On the other hand, the accrual basis is difficult to implement but is also efficient. Moreover, high-income-generating businesses implement accrual basis as their accounting practice.

5. Health

Accrual basis describes the company’s accurate financial condition; it undertakes future businesses for which you haven’t received any cash but are working along. But cash basis creates a fuss, as the accounts are based on short-term and only calculated when the cash is received. It cannot be used to state the company’s financial condition due to short-term cash flow.

6. Short Term

Unlike accrual basis, cash basis is short-term. It is to measure cash flow for a shorter period of time and gives a gross value of its financial condition for a shorter period only. On an accrual basis, the accounting pictures the financial condition of the company in the longer run.

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7. Overall Decision

Cash basis and accrual basis are helpful for management and investors to decide on the company. On a cash basis accounting, the investors and management cannot determine the financial health and take an appropriate decision. On the other hand, the accrual basis gives both management and investors a firm grip to make a stiff decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is cash basis of accounting?

A cash basis of accounting is one of the two accounting methods that records income and expenses only when the cash is received.

What is accrual basis of accounting?

An accrual basis of accounting is one of the two accounting methods that record income and expenses when a transaction occurs. 

Which is the most preferred way of accounting

Both cash basis and accrual basis of accounting are best in their own ways, but accrual basis of accounting is the most preferred way.

Is it easy to implement accrual basis of accounting?

Cash basis is a day-to-day transaction and is only accounted for when the cash is received. On the other hand, the accrual basis is difficult to implement as it takes a lot of time.

Is accrual basis short term accounting?

No, Cash-based accounting is short-term accounting as the records are made as soon as the money is received. On the contrary, accrual basis of accounting is long term.

Cash Basis vs Accrual Basis of Accounting

Accrual Basis and Cash Basis accounting are both useful in their own ways. However, the accrual basis of accounting is the most used accounting type due to its flexibility. The major differences of cash and accrual basis of accounting are, Implementation type, accuracy, taxes, usage, health, short-term vision, and the overall decision. Companies, institutions, and organizations prefer using the accrual basis of accounting as cash basis can go haywire.

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