accrual basis of accounting

The accounting method under which revenues are recognized on the income statement when they are earned (rather than when the cash is received). The balance sheet is also affected at the time of the revenues by either an increase in Cash (if the service or sale was for cash), an increase in Accounts Receivable (if the service was performed on credit), or a decrease in Unearned Revenues (if the service was performed after the customer had paid in advance for the service).

Under the accrual basis of accounting, expenses are matched with revenues on the income statement when the expenses expire or title has transferred to the buyer, rather than at the time when expenses are paid. The balance sheet is also affected at the time of the expense by a decrease in Cash (if the expense was paid at the time the expense was incurred), an increase in Accounts Payable (if the expense will be paid in the future), or a decrease in Prepaid Expenses (if the expense was paid in advance).