conservatism definition

This accounting guideline states that if doubt exists between two acceptable alternatives (in other words the accountant needs to break a tie), the accountant should choose the alternative that will result in a lesser asset amount and/or a lesser profit. A classic example is inventory where the net realizable value (NRV) is less than the actual cost. The accountant must decide whether to leave the inventory at cost or to reduce the inventory amount to its NRV. Conservatism directs the accountant to reduce the inventory to the lower amount (NRV). This results in a lower asset amount and a debit to an income statement account, such as Loss from Reducing Inventory to NRV.