Accounting Paper on Accounting Changes and Errors

Accounting Changes and Errors

Accounting principles denote the regulations and directives that corporations have to abide by while reporting monetary data. The Generally Accepted Accounting Principles is the general set of United States accounting principles, which companies have to follow while regularly filing their monetary statements to stay listed on various main stock exchanges in the country.  Reporting entities may change accounting principles if the changes are necessitated by a recently provided codification update or when they can justify the application of an accepted alternative accounting principle on condition that it is preferable (Hunt, Reed, & Sierra, 2013). There are several forms of accounting errors, mistakes where entries are recorded in the wrong account thus infringing the essential accounting principles. Errors of principles are procedural mistakes signifying that the recorded data was right but placed improperly; for instance, an organization might wrongly enter personal expenditures under business outlays.

Accounting Changes

Suppositions exist that the moment accounting principles are approved; they cannot be altered in accounting based on transactions or events of a comparable kind. Constant utilization of similar accounting principles from a given accounting period to a different one facilitates the utility of fiscal statements for users through the enhancement of analysis and comprehension of relative accounting details (Hunt et al., 2013). Because accounting principles vary from one nation to another, investors ought to be careful while comparing organizations from dissimilar regions. Nevertheless, the concern of divergences in accounting principles is not a major issue in established markets although investors have to take caution because there could be a scope for the misrepresentation of figures under numerous sets of accounting principles. The field of accounting is steered by general regulations and conceptions known as fundamental accounting laws and principles. Collectively, they create the foundation for more intricate, legalistic, and comprehensive laws of accounting.

Accounting changes occur in two major types (change in accounting estimates and change in accounting principles) with every one of them having a completely different manner of being tackled for accounting purposes. In this regard, the initial stride is to have the capacity to differentiate between the kinds of changes to ensure that one does not deal with either of them in the means in which he ought to address the other (Hall & Aldridge, 2007). Changes in accounting estimates normally happen the moment new data emerges. Common types encompass alterations in the rate, technique, one-time modification of amount to create an allowance for bad debts and variation in approach, approximated valuable life, or outstanding worth for assets that are being depleted, liquidated gradually, or decreasing in value. Addressing changes in accounting estimates calls for the adjustment of the present time and future periods to stick to the novel estimate. Previous fiscal statements are not regulated, and the full amount of adjustment is not normally revealed in the present year (mostly in the instances of decline estimate changes).

It has been established that changes in accounting principles arise the moment an organization is shifting from a given means of carrying out accounting to a different one. Such occurrences encompass variation of the approaches employed for dealing with long-standing construction contracts and varying the inventory valuation manner (for example, from LIFO to FIFO) (Hunt et al., 2013). The moment that changes in accounting principles happen, earlier monetary statements are altered to make sure that they assume the look they would have had had the new approach been employed right from the start.

Business combinations may considerably vary the magnitude and economic nature of an accounting unit. On this note, there is a need for the disclosure of pro forma outcomes, encompassing at the lowest proceeds and net income, similar to when the combination could have happened at the very beginning of the year it did, and akin to when the coordinated sequence could have arisen at the start of the previous year. This is meant to allow monetary statement users to undertake a time-series assessment of the fresh entity (Hunt et al., 2013). An entity ought to report a variation in accounting principle via the retrospective use of the new standard to every previous occurrence except when it is impossible to do it.

Variations that are not tantamount to changes in accounting principle or rectification of an error ought not to be undertaken in a retrospective manner. For instance, a given entity might realize revenue on long-standing construction contracts in line with the finished-contract approach since it lacks the necessary practices to generate sensibly reliable estimates needed to use the proportion-of-completion technique. The entity might later develop the practices and controls that enable it to employ the proportion-of-completion way (Hunt et al., 2013). This way, people get convinced that the variation to the proportion-of-completion technique is propelled by a difference in the basic details and situations and is not supposed to be treated like an alteration in accounting principle. Instead, such a change ought to be used prospectively to the contracts that are eligible because it signifies the support of a new principle or change of the existing principle anchored in new underlying situations and facts.

The retrospective utilization of changes in accounting principles demands that the cumulative impact of the variation of the novel accounting principle on instances before the ones presented is replicated in the carrying quantities of liabilities and assets similar to the start of the time presented. It also requires an offsetting change, if any, to be applied to the initial balance of retained income (or other suitable elements of net assets or equity in statements of the monetary situation) for that period (Blau, Brough, Smith, & Stephens, 2013). Finally, it demands the monetary statements for every earlier period presented to be altered to reveal the period-specific impacts of using the novel accounting principle.

Utilization of the retrospective method, akin to when a freshly employed accounting principle had at all times been applied, leads to an enhanced constancy of monetary details accounted across periods. Moreover, in terms of identifying the cumulative impact of an alteration in accounting principle in unlocking retained proceeds, it may be unsuitable to record the increasing effects on earlier incidences in net income of the time of change since no impact is associated with that occurrence (Hunt et al., 2013). Consequently, whereas new Accounting Standards Updates might, under some situations, call for the identification of a cumulative impact as of a particular date as the transition technique, that collective effect will be identified in preserved proceeds in place of net income in the course of the change.


Different forms of errors vary in their ease of correction. Errors found presently during usual accounting practices are regularly rectified routinely as a section of the summarizing progression of the accounting cycle. Errors occurring on balance sheet accounts are simply rectified through normal journal entries the moment they are discovered as soon as they have happened; when realized at a later time, balance sheet details have to be recomputed and reaffirmed for comparative reasons (Acito, Burks, & Johnson, 2009). Moreover, errors restricted to the income statement of accounts ought to be rectified once they are recognized, and the misstated accounts reiterated for rationales of assessment and relative reporting.

On the other hand, the errors influencing both income statement accounts and balance sheet accounts are placed into two categories. The first category comprises of mistakes in net income, which when not identified are automatically offset in the subsequent financial period. Net income quantities for a couple of consecutive occurrences are incorrectly affirmed, and some balance sheet accounts toward the end of the initial phase are misstated although the balance sheet accounts toward the close of the second phase will be accurate. The second category includes inaccuracies in net income, which if not identified cannot be automatically offset in the subsequent financial phase (Acito et al., 2009). A number of balance sheet accounts stay misstated up to the moment when right entries are done.

Accounting errors may occur at any organization. Rectifying such errors may be more intricate and time-consuming when judged against having the accounting done accurately to start with. This is attributable to the fact that for the majority of errors, it is not as easy as overturning the initial entry and generating the new proper entry (Acito et al., 2009). When the mistake occurs in an earlier accounting phase, and an income statement account is engaged, then preserved proceeds will possibly require alteration rather than an expenditure or income account. Furthermore, certain entries influence more than just the account obtaining the credit or debit. For example, expenses may proceed to have an impact on ending inventory, the price of commodities sold, starting inventory for the subsequent year, and sustained revenue. When the monetary statements for many years are being issued, then the previous year’s fiscal statements will be adjusted for any of the preceding year’s mistakes.

The intricacies of business dealings in conjunction with the human element of accounting may result in errors. Identifying the errors of principle calls for a detective task as a look at the trial balance, which holds the name of the account and its worth, just establishes whether credits are equivalent to debits (Acito et al., 2009). Whilst the manner in which mistakes are rectified relies on the form of mistake; a common rectification might be to deduct the value of the item from the mistaken account and include it in the right account. Errors of principle may be deemed considerable and material flaws since they may influence the way in which decisions are achieved. Whenever an organization identifies errors of principle subsequent to reporting its finances and finds that the faults notably influence the report, it should characteristically offer a restatement. Errors of principle differ from a case where one fails to record a given item (error of omission) or reporting an incorrect amount in the right account (error of commission). Such errors are known as input errors.

The moment that mistakes are established, organizations have to evaluate the suitable manner of accounting for the rectification of that error. Deciding whether the rectification ought to be revealed in a restatement of earlier monetary statements and the means of reflecting such a restatement or when the correction may be identified in the present phase monetary statements is anchored in the materiality of the mistake to the present time and earlier periods’ fiscal statements. There are three major deliberations upon identification of a possible error (Acito et al., 2009). They include determination of whether an error occurred (in place of a suitable reclassification, variation in the estimate, or alteration in accounting principle), evaluation of the materiality of a mistake (also encompasses internal control deliberations), and reporting a fault in earlier offered monetary statements.

Errors might happen in the identification, measurement, provision, or reflection of occurrences or transactions. The determination of whether an alteration results in error as opposed to a variation in the estimate, acceptable reclassification, or modification in accounting principle is a significant resolve. Instances of rectification of errors in earlier offered monetary statements encompass, though not restricted to some factors (Acito et al., 2009). Such aspects encompass changes from accounting principles that are not generally acknowledged to others that are usually accepted, rectification of faults in the adherence to the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, adjustment of mathematical errors, and omission or misuse of facts that happened in the course of the preparation of monetary statements.

Error Rectification vs. Changes in Accounting Estimate

It may be hard, to some extent, to differentiate a mistake from a variation in accounting estimate. Changes in accounting estimate may be referred to as an alteration that has the impact of correcting the carrying quantity of an extant asset or liability or modifying the ensuing accounting for present or future liabilities or assets. A variation in accounting estimate acts as an essential effect of the appraisal, along with the periodic presentation of fiscal statements, of the current position and anticipated future gains, and requirements linked to liabilities and assets (Mail, Atan, & Mohamed, 2009). Modifications in accounting estimates emanate from novel details.

Application and development of accounting estimates form a vital section of accounting and monetary reporting. Several accounting pronouncements demand entities to develop accounting estimates and evaluate a constant foundation of whether the fundamental presuppositions have varied (Hunt et al., 2013). Occurrences of estimates encompass uncollectible dues, inventory obsolescence, and assurance obligations. Attributable to their natural occurrence, such approximations will and ought to change with time as novel details and experiences emerge. Nonetheless, the reality that the accounting progression entails an approximation practice does not signify that all the alterations associated with an estimation progression represent variation in estimates. When the real outcomes fail to back the presuppositions employed in the development of the accounting estimate, entities ought to assess whether a mistake (instead of a change in accounting estimate) has taken place.

The establishment of whether variations represent changes in accounting approximations or errors demands the application of judgment and is usually a subject of degree. There is usually the inquiry of whether the utilization of new details accounts for an alteration in the estimate or an error rectification. The reaction relies on the time that the information was practically accessible, the moment that the estimate was reorganized for the information, and the manner in which the information was construed to mention a few (Acito et al., 2009). For instance, the failure to change the essential suppositions of an estimate in a well-timed approach as new details emerge or situations vary may lead to an error. Moreover, misconstrued interpretation of the information employed in the development or backing of an estimate in an earlier provided set of monetary statements acts as an error.

Changes in accounting principle have been established to happen the moment that an entity varies from a given commonly recognized accounting principle to another normally accepted one or the time that an entity changes the technique of employing accounting principles. Changes from a given approved accounting principle to a different one do not constitute accounting errors (Acito et al., 2009). In the course of a variation in accounting principle, an entity might realize an error. Nevertheless, it is not acceptable to include the rectification of an error in explaining a variation in accounting principle. Just like every other mistake, the entity ought to separately assess the corporality of the error and apply its correction in line with the set guidelines.


Accounting principles signify the directives and dictates that organizations have to abide by while reporting financial data. Accounting changes may happen in two main types (change in accounting estimates and change in accounting principles) which have an entirely different style of being tackled for accounting functions. Alterations in accounting estimates usually happen the moment new data appears. Unlike forms of errors differ in their easiness of rectification. Accounting errors could arise at any organization, and the rectification of such errors might be more complex and time-consuming when judged against having the accounting done correctly to start with. It might be difficult, to some extent, to distinguish a fault from a deviation in accounting estimate. The determination of whether variations symbolize changes in accounting approximations or faults demands cautious judgment and is typically a concern of degree.




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Blau, B. M., Brough, T. J., Smith, J. L., & Stephens, N. M. (2013). An examination of short-selling activity surrounding auditor changes. Journal of Accounting, Auditing & Finance, 28(4), 348-368.

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Hunt, A. K., Reed, B. J., & Sierra, G. E. (2013). An accounting change at American Rock Salt Company. Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies, 19(5), 89-94.

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