matching principle definition and meaning

Matching Principle

If a company misses an expense or skips putting it on the statement, it will give an inaccurate picture of the business’s financial position. For instance, a company that adds the expense earlier than appropriate will show a lower net income.

  • The increased incremental revenue due to the marketing effort cannot be allocated directly to the cost since both the timing and amount are unknown.
  • Business expense categories such as prepaid expenses use the matching principle in similar fashion as depreciation.
  • When you use the cash basis of accounting, the recordation of accounting transactions is triggered by the movement of cash.
  • For example, a business spends $20 million on a new location with the expectation that it lasts for 10 years.
  • By contrast, if the company used the cash basis of accounting rather than accrual, they would record the revenue in November and the commission in December.
  • Another benefit is a more accurate reporting of a business’ operating results because the revenues and expenses were matched at the same time.
  • Therefore, one third of the interest payment must be matched with the current year.

For example, in January, your business prepaid annual rent in the amount of $15,000. Depreciation expense reduces income for each period that the expense is recorded.

Matching Principle in AccountingDefined with Examples

Depreciation often gets described as the “effects of wear and tear” on the value of an asset. It may be helpful to think of it that way, but in reality, depreciation is strictly about cost allocation, not asset valuation. Revenue recognition covers the tools, procedures and guidelines a business follows to record income data. If your company’s pay period ends on Dec. 25 and you don’t get paid until Jan. 5, this expense will be recorded in the December income statement for the wages you earned from Dec. 25 to Dec. 30.

What is the matching concept quizlet?

The matching concept states that all the expenses incurred must be recorded in the same period that the revenue is recorded. Expenses are matched against the revenue they generate.

Since the payroll costs can be directly linked back to revenue generated in the period, the payroll costs are expensed in the current period. In short, the matching principle states that where expenses can be matched with revenues, we should do so because the benefits of an asset or revenue should be linked to the costs of that asset or revenue. If an ink-and-toner company buys a truckload of cartridges in June to resell to customers over the next several months, it does not record the cost of all those cartridges in June. Rather it records the cost of each cartridge on the income statement when the cartridge is sold. Applying the matching principle is made easy when the revenues and expenses to be recorded are clear and easy to recognize.


The income statement shows the product costs that the account managers match to the revenue and the period costs of the current period. So, it means that the Matching Principle directly affects the net profit or loss. The matching principle states that expenses should be recognized and recorded when those expenses can be matched with the revenues those expenses helped to generate. In this sense, the matching principle recognizes expenses as the revenue recognition principle recognizes income. Well, the costs and expenses a company reports are not necessarily the ones it wrote checks for during that period. The costs and expenses on the income statement are those it incurred in generating the sales recorded during that time period.

On the balance sheet at the end of 2018, a bonuses payable balance of $5 million will be credited, and retained earnings will be reduced by the same amount , so the balance sheet will continue to balance. If you’re ready to automate your accounting system, or are in the market for an upgrade to your current accounting software, be sure to check out The Ascent’s accounting software reviews. Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission.

The Matching Concept Defined

Ask questions and participate in discussions as our trainers teach you how to read and understand your financial statements and financial position. In those few dry sentences, however, lurks a powerful tool that financial artists can put to work.

  • This matches the expense of the asset with the revenues that it generates.
  • This is especially important in relation to charging off the cost of fixed assets through depreciation, rather than charging the entire amount of these assets to expense as soon as they are purchased.
  • Because there’s no definitive proof that the expansion will be beneficial and profitable, the bakery will take the useful life of the expanded area and depreciate the total cost over that lifetime.
  • 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.
  • Company XYZ sales are made by sales representatives who take a 10% commission.

Mary Girsch-Bock is the expert on accounting software and payroll software for The Ascent. The commission that is payable for this month from the 15th to the 30th for which an adjusting entry will be made is $3,000. The payment will no longer have an impact on the Income Statement but will decrease both the payables and the cash account. When companies are profitable, they are more inclined to give out bonuses to their employees. The matching principle stabilizes the financial performance of companies to prevent sudden increases in profitability which can often be misleading without understanding the full context. One of the most straightforward examples for understanding the matching principle is the concept of depreciation.

Matching Principle for the Cost of Goods Sold

Though matching and accrual-based accounting sound similar, the matching concept is better than the accrual basis. For instance, a company would recognize the estimated tax expense under an accrual basis in the current accounting period despite the actual settlement happening in the subsequent period. While revenue recognition has nothing to do with the matching principle, both concepts often interrelate. Basically, revenue recognition provides a window into the rules a business follows to post income data.

Matching Principle

Expenses not directly tied to revenue production should be expensed immediately in the current period. Under a bonus plan, an employee earns a $50,000 bonus based on measurable aspects of her performance within a year. You should record the bonus expense within the year when the employee earned it.


These businesses report commission expenses on the December income statement. In this case, they report the commission in January because it is the payment month. The alternative is reporting the expense in December, when they incurred the expense.

Matching Principle

Hence, if a company purchases an elaborate office system for $252,000 that will be useful for 84 months, the company should report $3,000 of depreciation expense on each of its monthly income statements. The matching principle also has a cause and effect relationship with financial transactions occurring from normal business operations. Each dollar or unit of currency spent must have an offset, such as wages paid or items purchased for the business. The accrual accounting method uses the principle as a self-balancing tool to maintain the accuracy of the general ledger. Companies use the matching principle concept to ensure consistency in all their financial statements, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements.

What is an example of the matching principle?

Overall, it’s a good idea to understand the matching principle for the purpose of day-to-day accounting. Free Financial Modeling Guide A Complete Guide to Financial Modeling This resource is designed to be the best free guide to financial modeling! Compensation may impact the order of which offers appear on page, but our editorial opinions and ratings are not influenced by compensation. Join today to access over 18,100 courses taught by industry experts or purchase this course individually. Designed for freelancers and small business owners, Debitoor invoicing software makes it quick and easy to issue professional invoices and manage your business finances. If you recognise an expense later than is appropriate, this results in a higher net income.

Matching Principle

Just like in the last example, the bookkeeper will estimate the warranty expense and estimate a warranty liability for the current and future accounting periods. Whenever there is a need to estimate expenses, it’s likely that your estimate will not be exact, but the estimate developed each year should be reviewed and, if necessary, adjusted for future years. Using the matching principle, costs are also properly accounted for, resulting in more accurate financial statements.

Journal Entry to Record the Accrual

For instance, the direct cost of a product is expensed on the income statement only if the product is sold and delivered to the customer. A cosmetics company uses sales representatives, who earn a 10% commission on their sales at the end of each month. For the month of November, the company earned $100,000 in sales, and they will pay their sales reps $10,000 in resulting commission fees in December. Certain financial elements of business also benefit from the use of the matching principle.

  • Doing so is moderately complex, making it difficult for smaller businesses without accountants to use.
  • If the company has $50,000 in sales in the month of December, the company will pay the commission of $5,000 next January.
  • For instance, if a company with billions of dollars in revenue buys an office item worth $1000 whose productive life is over five years may choose not to apply the matching principle.
  • The difference between cash and accrual accounting boils down to “revenue recognition,” or when your company records revenue.
  • On the other hand, the accrual basis and matching principle sound similar, and one often use them interchangeably in the accounting world.
  • However, over time, the organization will be able to average out a percentage of expenses that it is likely to pay over time.

A salesperson makes a 5% commission on every sale they make in the month of January, but their commission isn’t paid until February. This means that if they sell $100 worth of products in January, the company will pay them $5 in February. Despite this, the amount of commissions they earned—in this case $5—is required to be reported on the January statement with the January product sales of $100. Looking for training on the income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows? At some point managers need to understand the statements and how you affect the numbers. Learn more about financial ratios and how they help you understand financial statements. In the accrual basis of accounting, this is done by recording the transactions as they occur even when the actual cash from the revenue is not yet received or expenses are incurred but cash is not paid yet.