Balance Sheet Savvy

The Foundations of Financial Reporting: Cost Revenue and Going Concern

The Cost Principle: Reporting Assets at CostHave you ever wondered how companies determine the value of their assets? Well, it all comes down to a little something called the cost principle.

This principle states that assets should be reported on a company’s financial statements at their original cost. In this article, we will explore the importance of the cost principle in financial reporting and how it impacts businesses.

Reporting assets at cost

The cost principle requires businesses to report their assets at their original cost. This means that when a company purchases an asset, such as a piece of equipment or a building, it is recorded on the financial statements at the amount the company paid for it.

This is known as the historical cost. The rationale behind this principle is to provide users of financial statements with reliable and relevant information about the company’s resources.

But why is it necessary to report assets at their cost? Wouldn’t it be more useful to know their replacement cost or market value?

While these values may indeed be more relevant in certain situations, the cost principle ensures consistency and comparability between different companies. By reporting assets at their original cost, financial statements allow for easy comparison of companies in the same industry, providing valuable insights for investors, creditors, and other interested parties.

Auditing historical cost

Auditors play a crucial role in ensuring that companies accurately report their assets at their historical cost. Auditing is the process of examining financial records to verify their accuracy and reliability.

When it comes to the cost principle, auditors review the documentation related to the purchase of assets to confirm that they have been recorded at their original cost. By auditing historical costs, auditors can detect any potential discrepancies or errors in a company’s financial statements.

This ensures that the reported value of assets is reliable and gives stakeholders confidence in the financial information presented. Auditing serves as a check and balance system that helps maintain the integrity of financial reporting.

The Going Concern Assumption: Continuing in BusinessImagine a world where businesses never went bankrupt or closed their doors. Well, the going concern assumption allows us to do just that.

This important accounting principle assumes that a business will continue its operations indefinitely, rather than liquidating or going out of business. In this section, we will delve deeper into the going concern assumption and its significance.

Continuing in business and not liquidating

The going concern assumption assumes that a company will continue to operate for the foreseeable future, without any plans of liquidation. This means that financial statements are prepared on the basis that the company will continue its normal day-to-day operations, generating profits, and meeting its obligations.

This assumption is essential for various reasons. Firstly, it allows companies to plan for the long term, making strategic decisions based on the assumption of future profitability.

It also provides stability and confidence to stakeholders such as investors and creditors, as they can rely on the company’s ability to generate income and repay debts. The going concern assumption is a fundamental element in assessing a company’s financial health and sustainability.

Relevance of cost in relation to liquidation

But what happens when a company’s going concern is in question? In such cases, costs become a crucial consideration.

When a business is on the verge of liquidation or expansion, costs play a significant role in determining its viability. In the case of liquidation, costs are analyzed to determine the amount of funds needed to settle debts and liabilities.

By assessing the historical costs of assets and evaluating their current market value, decision-makers can estimate the potential proceeds from the sale of assets. This analysis helps in deciding whether liquidation is financially feasible or if there are alternative strategies to pursue.

Similarly, when considering expansion or investment decisions, the going concern assumption relies on cost projections and analysis. Costs associated with expanding operations, acquiring new assets, or entering new markets are carefully evaluated to ensure that the financial impact is viable and aligned with the company’s long-term goals.


In this article, we explored two fundamental accounting principles – the cost principle and the going concern assumption. The cost principle ensures that assets are reported at their original cost, providing reliability and comparability in financial reporting.

The going concern assumption, on the other hand, assumes that a business will continue its operations indefinitely, allowing for long-term planning and stability. By understanding these principles, stakeholders can gain valuable insights into a company’s financial health and decision-making processes.

Whether it’s the assessment of assets or evaluating the viability of a business, the cost principle and the going concern assumption form the foundation of sound financial reporting and analysis.

Revenue Recognition Principle

Reason for not reporting market values

The revenue recognition principle is another crucial concept in accounting that governs when and how revenue is recorded on a company’s financial statements. Under this principle, revenue is recognized when it is earned and realized or realizable.

This means that revenue should not be recognized until the goods or services have been delivered or rendered, and the company is reasonably certain of receiving payment. But why is it important to focus on the recognition of revenue rather than reporting market values?

The answer lies in the relevance and reliability of financial information. Market values of goods or services can fluctuate over time, making them unreliable for financial reporting purposes.

By focusing on recognizing revenue when it is earned and realizable rather than based on market values, financial statements provide users with more accurate and consistent information about a company’s financial performance. Consider a computer software company that sells licenses to its software products.

If the company were to recognize revenue based on market values, it would have to constantly adjust its reported revenue each time there is a change in market prices. This would make it difficult for stakeholders to compare the company’s performance over time or make informed investment decisions.

Instead, by following the revenue recognition principle, the software company recognizes revenue when it has delivered the software to the customers and when there is persuasive evidence of an arrangement for payment. This approach provides more reliable and meaningful information to stakeholders, enabling them to assess the company’s financial performance accurately.

Exceptions to Cost Principle

Reporting assets at market value in certain industries

While the cost principle advocates for reporting assets at their original cost, there are certain exceptions to this rule. In some industries, it may be more relevant and useful to report assets at their market value.

This can arise when there are significant markets with quoted market prices that provide objective evidence of the fair value of an asset. Let’s explore some of these exceptions.

One such industry is the investment sector, where financial institutions hold a portfolio of securities such as stocks and bonds. In this industry, assets are often reported at their fair value, which is determined by market prices.

These market values provide more relevant information to investors and analysts who rely on the fair value of these securities to assess the financial position and performance of the financial institution. Another industry where market value reporting is common is the real estate sector.

Real estate assets, such as land, buildings, and properties, are often reported at their fair value. This fair value is determined by evaluating current market prices, recent appraisals, or comparable sales within a specific geographical area.

Market value reporting in the real estate sector allows stakeholders to have a better understanding of a company’s real estate assets and their potential value. The exception to the cost principle in these industries is primarily driven by the availability of significant markets with quoted market prices.

These markets provide objective evidence of the fair value of assets, making market value reporting more relevant and informative. However, it’s important to note that in most industries, the cost principle still prevails.

Reporting assets at their original cost provides consistency and comparability among companies within the same industry. It ensures that financial statements reflect the resources invested by the company and helps stakeholders make informed decisions based on reliable financial information.

In conclusion, the revenue recognition principle focuses on when and how revenue should be recorded, emphasizing the importance of recognizing revenue when it is earned and realizable rather than based on market values. Exceptions to the cost principle exist in industries where there are significant markets with quoted market prices, allowing for the reporting of assets at their market value.

These exceptions provide more relevant and reliable financial information in certain contexts but are not applicable universally. By understanding and applying these principles, stakeholders can rely on financial statements to make informed decisions and assess a company’s financial performance accurately.

In conclusion, the cost principle, revenue recognition principle, and going concern assumption are fundamental concepts in financial reporting. The cost principle ensures that assets are reported at their original cost, providing reliability and comparability.

The revenue recognition principle focuses on recognizing revenue when it is earned and realizable, rather than based on fluctuating market values. Lastly, the going concern assumption assumes a company will continue its operations indefinitely, providing stability for stakeholders.

Understanding and applying these principles is essential for accurate and meaningful financial reporting. By adhering to these principles, stakeholders can make informed decisions and assess a company’s financial health with confidence.

Remember, financial reporting is not just about numbers; it’s about providing reliable and relevant information to drive sound decision-making.

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