Cash Basis Accounting vs. Accrual Accounting

Susan Kelly Updated on Jun 13, 2023

Deciding which accounting method is best for your business can take time and effort. Business owners must understand the differences b/w cash basis and accrual accounting to make an informed choice.

This blog post will explore the key differences between these two financial tracking methods and explain why one might be better suited for certain businesses. Keep reading to understand both accounting forms better and decide which would work better for you.

Define Cash Basis Accounting and Accrual Accounting

Cash Basis Accounting is a method of bookkeeping that records all transactions when they are received or paid. This means revenues and expenses are only recorded when cash specie hands.

Accrual Accounting, however, records all transactions as they occur, regardless of payment. That means revenues and expenses can be recorded before money has exchanged hands.

Benefits of Cash Basis Accounting

1. Easier to understand and manage finances: Since all income and expenses are reported when received or paid, cash basis accounting is often simpler and easier for business owners to track. This can be especially helpful if you don't have a formal accounting background.

2. More accurate reporting of cash flow: Showing only the actual incoming and outgoing payments allows for more accurate tracking of the company's cash flow. This can help businesses identify areas to save or spend more.

3. Lower cost: Cash basis accounting is generally cheaper to manage than accrual because it requires fewer transactions and is less complex


4. No need to track receivables: Since you only report income when received, there's no need to track and adjust for accounts receivable.

Benefits of Accrual Accounting

1. A better reflection of financial performance: Accrual accounting gives a more accurate picture of a company's financial performance because income and expenses are reported when earned or incurred.

2. Easier to track inventory: Accrual accounting requires tracking and reporting inventory levels, which helps businesses better manage their stock and supplies. This is especially important for businesses with large inventories or selling products.

3. More tax flexibility: The ability to spread income and expenses over different months can make tax season simpler and less costly. This can be especially beneficial for businesses with higher margins or that are seasonal.

4. Easier to prepare financial statements: Accrual accounting makes it easier to prepare financial statements, such as the balance sheet and income statement, which can help a business better analyze its financial performance.

Overall, the choice b/w cash basis accounting and accrual accounting depends heavily on the size and nature of a business.

Discuss the Pros & Cons of Using a Combination Approach

Regarding cash basis and accrual accounting, there can be advantages and disadvantages to using either solely or in combination. A combination approach may be most suitable for businesses with more complex needs.

Pros of a Combination Approach

- Better financial insight and accuracy - Combining cash and accrual methods can provide a more comprehensive view of the business's finances, which helps with decision-making and budgeting.

- Improved visibility - Business owners can easily track their income and expenses.

- Reduced risk of IRS violations - Having both systems in place reduces the risk of IRS and other tax violations.

Cons of a Combination Approach

- More complex bookkeeping - Business owners must manage two separate systems, which can be more time-consuming and require additional resources.

- Increased costs - Having two different methods in place will likely require more expertise and training, which can add to the cost of bookkeeping.

- Incomplete financial picture - Both systems may not always provide an accurate view of the company's finances, so it is important to know any gaps.

Overall, a combination approach can help business owners better understand their finances, but it is important to weigh the pros and cons before deciding which system is best for your business.

Effects of Cash and Accrual Accounting on Cash Flow, Taxes, and Policy

Businesses should also consider the potential effects of cash basis and accrual accounting on cash flow, taxes, and policy. Cash basis accounting can affect a company's cash flow since income and outlay are recorded when they occur rather than when payment is received or made.

This can cause issues if the business needs more cash to cover its obligations when they come due.

As for taxes, accrual accounting provides more accurate records of profits that should be reported for tax purposes, as income and outlay are recorded when they are earned or incurred.

Lastly, depending on the business's policies, some items may be deductible in one method but not the other.

For example, a company that uses cash and accrual accounting can deduct depreciation on equipment under accrual accounting but not cash basis accounting.

Therefore, it is important to consider the potential impacts of cash and accrual accounting before choosing an approach for your business. A combination approach may be best if you require more detailed financial statements and accurate tax records.

Explain the Impact of Cash Basis vs. Accrual on Financial Statements

Regarding financial statements, cash basis accounting and accrual accounting have very different impacts. Cash basis accounting is a method of bookkeeping in which income and Figures are recorded only when money is exchanged.

This means the company will only record transactions once cash has been received or disbursed. On the other hand, accrual accounting records income and expenses when they are earned or incurred, regardless of when cash is exchanged.

Cash basis accounting can benefit businesses with a smaller ledger or primarily with cash transactions.

However, it needs to provide an accurate picture of the company's financial health since there may be issues related to accounts receivable, accounts payable, or inventory that won't be reported on the financial statements.

Accrual accounting, on the other hand, provides more in-depth information about a company's finances since it records all incurred and earned transactions. This allows for better forecasting of future performance and can help ensure accurate reporting of financial statements and taxes.


What is an example of a cash basis accounting?

Revenue and costs are recorded when the payment is received or made under the cash basis accounting system. A business that sells things would be an illustration of this.

The company would record the sale when it receives payment for the product rather than when it is sold or shipped.

What is an example of accrual accounting?

With the accrual method, revenue and outlay are recorded at the time of the exchange, whether payment is made.

An example is a company that sells goods on credit terms. When the goods are shipped to the goods are sold and shipped, the company would record the sale as revenue even though payment has yet to be received.

Why is accrual accounting better?

Accrual accounting gives businesses a better picture of their financial position as it records transactions when they take place. This is important for businesses to accurately track their income and expenses.


Ultimately, it all comes down to your business goals and knowing what type of accounting works best for you. Cash basis accounting is great if you're a small business just starting or don't need detailed records. Accrual accounting is the way to go if you want more accurate financial statements or to pay taxes at the right time.

Whichever method you choose, consider consulting with a certified public accountant to ensure that you're maximizing your financial efficiency and can make informed decisions for the future of your business.