Matching Principle - topic contents
Matching Principle requires that expenses incurred by an organization must be charged to the income statement in the accounting period in which the revenue, to which those expenses relate, is earned.
Prior to the application of the matching principle, expenses were charged to the income statement in the accounting period in which they were paid irrespective of whether they relate to the revenue earned during that period. This resulted in non recognition of expenses incurred but not paid for during an accounting period (i.e. accrued expenses) and the charge to income statement of expenses paid in respect of future periods (i.e. prepaid expenses). Application of matching principle results in the deferral of prepaid expenses in order to match them with the revenue earned in future periods. Similarly, accrued expenses are charged in the income statement in which they are incurred to match them with the current period's revenue.
A major development from the application of matching principle is the use of depreciation in the accounting for non-current assets. Depreciation results in a systematic charge of the cost of a fixed asset to the income statement over several accounting periods spanning the asset's useful life during which it is expected to generate economic benefits for the entity. Depreciation ensures that the cost of fixed assets is not charged to the profit & loss at once but is 'matched' against economic benefits (revenue or cost savings) earned from the asset's use over several accounting periods.
Matching principle therefore results in the presentation of a more balanced and consistent view of the financial performance of an organization than would result from the use of cash basis of accounting.
Examples of the use of matching principle in IFRS and GAAP include the following:
In the accounting community, the expressions 'matching principle' and 'accruals basis of accounting' are often used interchangeably. Accruals basis of accounting requires recognition of income and expenses in the accounting periods to which they relate rather than on cash basis. Accruals basis of accounting is therefore similar to the matching principle in that both tend to dissolve the use of cash basis of accounting.
However, the matching principle is a further refinement of the accruals concept. For example, accruals basis of accounting requires the recognition of the estimated tax expense in the current accounting period even though the actual settlement of the provision may occur in the subsequent period. However, matching principle would also necessitate the recognition of deferred tax in the accounting periods in which the temporary differences arise so as to 'match' the accounting profits with the tax charge recognized in the accounting period to the extent of the temporary differences.