Functions of Accounting:
a. Recording: Accounting records business transactions in terms of money. It is essentially concerned with ensuring that all business transactions of financial nature are properly recorded. Recording is done in journal, which is further subdivided into subsidiary books from the point of view of convenience.
b. Classifying: Accounting also facilitates classification of all business transactions recorded in journal. Items of similar nature are classified under appropriate heads. The work of classification is done in a book called the ledger.
c. Summarizing: Accounting summarizes the classified information. It is done in a manner, which is useful to the internal and external users. Internal users interested in these informations are the persons who manage the business. External users of information are the investors, creditors, tax authorities, labor unions, trade associations, shareholders, etc.
d. Interpreting: It implies analyzing and interpreting the financial data embodied in final accounts. Interpretation of the data helps the management, outsiders and shareholders in decision making.
Limitations of Accounting:
- Accounting information is expressed in terms of money. Non monetary events or transactions, however important, are completely omitted.
- Fixed assets are recorded in the accounting records at the original cost, that is, the actual amount spent on them plus all incidental charges. In this way the effect of inflation (or deflation) is not taken into consideration. The direct result of this practice is that balance sheet does not represent the true financial position of the business.
- Accounting information is sometimes based on estimates; estimates are often inaccurate.
- Accounting information cannot be used as the only test of managerial performance on the basis of more profits. Profit for a period of one year can readily be manipulated by omitting such costs as advertisement, research and development, depreciation and so on.
- Accounting information is not neutral or unbiased. Accountants calculate income as excess of revenues over expenses. But they consider only selected revenues and expenses. They do not, for example, include, cost of such items as water or air pollution, employee’s injuries, etc.
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Accounting like any other discipline has to follow certain principles, which in certain cases are contradictory. For example current assets (e.g., stock of goods) are valued on the basis of cost or market price whichever is less following the principle of conservatism. Accordingly the current assets may be valued on cost basis in some year and at market price in another year. In this manner, the rule of consistency is not followed regularly.