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What is GAAP?

Harold Averkamp, CPA, MBA

Definition of GAAP

GAAP is the acronym for generally accepted accounting principles. GAAP consists of the following:

Examples of the Basic Underlying Accounting Principles

The basic underlying accounting principles are:

  • Economic Entity Assumption
  • Going Concern Assumption
  • Time Period Assumption
  • Monetary Unit Assumption
  • Cost Principle (or Measurement Principle)
  • Matching Principle (or Expense Recognition Principle)
  • Revenue Recognition Principle
  • Full Disclosure Principle
  • Industry Practices

In addition to the basic underlying accounting principles, there are various characteristics that also guide accountants. Some of the characteristics include objectivity, conservatism, materiality, cost/benefit, comparability, relevance, and timeliness.

Why GAAP is Important

In order for investors, bankers, financial analysts, portfolio managers, etc. to make informed decisions, it is necessary to have financial statements that are consistent and which can be compared to the financial statements of other corporations. This is more likely to occur when there are common rules for financial reporting. When financial statements are distributed by a business or other organization, the common rules that must be followed are known as generally accepted accounting principles or GAAP.

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About the Author

Harold Averkamp

For the past 52 years, Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as an accounting supervisor, manager, consultant, university instructor, and innovator in teaching accounting online. He is the sole author of all the materials on

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