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Modified Accrual Accounting



Definition

Modified Accrual Accounting is a financial accounting method commonly used by government agencies that combines accrual-basis accounting with cash-basis accounting. It recognizes revenues when they become available and measurable, and expenses when they are incurred. This method aims to provide a realistic financial picture by accounting for both future obligations and expenditures.

Phonetic

The phonetics of the keyword “Modified Accrual Accounting” are məˈdɪfaɪd əˈkruːəl əˈkaʊntɪŋ.

Key Takeaways

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  1. Modified Accrual Accounting is used by government agencies and organizations. It combines aspects of cash basis and accrual basis accounting. This system records revenues when they become available and measurable, not necessarily when they’re earned.
  2. Under Modified Accrual Accounting, expenses are recorded when liabilities are incurred during the period, regardless of when cash is paid. This gives a more accurate portrayal of an organization’s financial health during a specific period compared to cash basis accounting.
  3. One of the key objectives of Modified Accrual Accounting is to demonstrate legal and regulatory compliance, helping ensure government entities are responsibly using and managing public resources. However, it can sometimes make it harder to compare against commercial corporations that use full accrual accounting methods.

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Importance

Modified Accrual Accounting is crucial in the finance and business world due to its unique ability to provide a balanced outlook on an organization’s financial health. This accounting method, used majorly in public sector or governmental entities, combines elements of both cash and accrual methods to document revenues when they become available and measurable, and expenses when liabilities are incurred. This approach offers a more comprehensive perspective on the financial status by taking into account not just current cash flow, but also future obligations and resources, which aids in enhancing financial transparency and accountability. Therefore, the relevance of modified accrual accounting in financial management is significant in facilitating prudent financial decisions, long-term planning, and resource allocation.

Explanation

Modified accrual accounting is a financial reporting method commonly used by government agencies and other public-sector entities that combines aspects of cash basis and accrual accounting. Its main purpose is to track financial transactions in a way that reflects both short-term and long-term financial realities. It records revenue when it becomes measurable and available to finance the expenditures of the fiscal period, while expenditures are recognized when they are incurred. This method fosters a balance between focusing on fiscal accountability (through the cash basis aspect) and operational accountability (through the accrual basis aspect).In practice, this means that revenues (like taxes or grants) are recognized when they are both calculable and collectible within the current period or soon enough after to be used to pay off liabilities of the current period. Meanwhile, expenditures are recognized when the related liability is incurred, regardless of the timing of related cash flows. For instance, a city that incurs costs for infrastructure or services in the current year would record these as expenditures, even if the cash is not expected to be paid out until the following year. Overall, modified accrual accounting allows government entities to provide a more comprehensive view of their current financial status and future outlook, making it a valuable tool for financial management and planning.

Examples

1. Municipal accounting: Government bodies such as city or county governments commonly follow the Modified Accrual Accounting method. They need to take into account multiple sources of revenue, such as taxes that are often received at certain times of the year, but the services provided are spread throughout the year. The modified accrual accounting provides a more appropriate view of how these revenues and expenses match up.2. School Districts: School districts often receive their funds from a combination of local property taxes, state funds, and federal grants. Especially with local property taxes, a significant amount of revenue may be received in the form of a lump sum. With modified accrual accounting, the school district can better match this revenue with the expenses that will occur over the course of the school year.3. Non-profit organizations: A non-profit organization may receive large donations or grants at a single time but needs to spread these funds to cover its operations over time. With modified accrual accounting, the organization can account for this income when it’s available, but also match it with related expenses as they occur, providing a more accurate view of its financial situation.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Modified Accrual Accounting?

Modified Accrual Accounting is a system of accounting that combines features of both cash and accrual accounting. It recognizes revenues when they become available and measurable, and expenses are recognized when they are incurred.

What is the purpose of Modified Accrual Accounting?

Modified Accrual Accounting provides a more accurate financial picture by acknowledging revenues when accessible and measurable, and expenses when they’re incurred. It’s often used by government entities to account for expenditures and revenues in a more comprehensive manner.

Who typically uses Modified Accrual Accounting?

Modified Accrual Accounting is predominantly utilized by government agencies, non-profit organizations, and other entities that need to track long-term assets or liabilities, but also need to maintain a focus on short-term financial health.

How does Modified Accrual Accounting differ from Accrual Accounting?

In Accrual Accounting, revenue and expenses are recorded when they are earned and incurred, respectively, regardless of when cash is exchanged. Whereas in Modified Accrual Accounting, revenue is recognized when it becomes both available and measurable, not merely when it is earned, and expenses are recognized when they’re incurred.

What does available and measurable mean in Modified Accrual Accounting?

Available means that the revenue is collectible within the current period or soon enough thereafter to be used to pay liabilities of the current period. Measurable means the amount of the transaction can be determined reliably.

Is Modified Accrual Accounting GAAP compliant?

Yes, Modified Accrual Accounting is GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) compliant and is the recommended method for state and local governments by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB).

Can commercial businesses use Modified Accrual Accounting?

While it’s not prohibited for commercial businesses to use Modified Accrual Accounting, it’s more relevant and commonly used in the public sector, particularly for government accounting. Commercial businesses typically use either cash or accrual accounting.

What are some of the challenges of using Modified Accrual Accounting?

Some challenges of using Modified Accrual Accounting include the complex nature of calculating when revenues are available and measurable, and the potential for misunderstanding or misinterpretation of financial statements since they differ from those based purely on a cash or accrual basis.

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