Accounting in the United States

Accounting Definition

The making and rendering of an account. Usually, but not necessarily, applied to accountings under order of court.  (definition of Accounting Is based on The Cyclopedic Law Dictionary ).

Accounting Regulations and Standards in the U.S.

Until 1973, accounting principles in the United States had traditionally been established by certified public accountants. Such persons are accountants licensed by their state governments on the basis of educational background, a rigorous certification examination, and, in some jurisdictions, relevant field experience. In 1973, the seven-member Financial Accounting Standards Board was created as an independent standard-setting organization. Regulations for auditors are promulgated by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

United States companies whose stocks or bonds are traded by the general public must conform to rules set by the Securities and Exchange Commission, a federal government agency. Tax laws and regulations are administered at the federal level by the Internal Revenue Service and at the local level by state and municipal government agencies.

The United States has no standard-setting body for managerial accounting. From 1971 to 1980, however, the federal Cost Accounting Standards Board established accounting rules for contracts with parties that sell goods and services to the government.

The nongovernmental Institute of Management Accounting, although not active in issuing technical standards, does administer a program qualifying candidates for a certificate in management accounting (CMA). The Institute of Internal Auditors has a program enabling an accountant to be designated a certified internal auditor (CIA).

More Accounting Entries

Accounting information can be classified into two categories: financial accounting or public information and managerial accounting or private information.
Read about Financial Accouting here
Read about Managerial Accouting here

Specialized Accounting

Of the various specialized areas of accounting that exist, the three most important are auditing, income taxation, and nonbusiness organizations. Auditing is the examination, by an independent accountant, of the financial data, accounting records, business documents, and other pertinent documents of an organization in order to attest to the accuracy of its financial statements. Read about Auditing here

The second specialized area of accounting is income taxation. Read about income taxation here

A third area of specialization is accounting for nonbusiness organizations, such as universities, hospitals, churches, trade and professional associations, and government agencies. Read about accounting for nonbusiness organizations here

Financial Reporting

Traditionally, the function of financial reporting was to provide proprietors with information about the companies that they owned and operated. Read about financial reporting here

Accounting Principles

Accounting as it exists today may be viewed as a system of assumptions, doctrines, tenets, and conventions, all encompassed by the phrase “generally accepted accounting principles.” Read about accounting principles here

The Balance Sheet

Of the two traditional types of financial statements, the balance sheet relates to an entity’s position, and the income statement relates to its activity. The balance sheet provides information about an organization’s assets, liabilities, and owners’ equity as of a particular date (such as the last day of the accounting or fiscal period). Read about income balance sheet here

The Income Statement

The traditional activity-oriented financial statement issued by business enterprises is the income statement. Read about Income Statements here

Source: “Accounting and Bookkeeping” Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia

Accounting in Legal Research

A good online sources for accounting articles is the ABI/INFORM database on(ProQuest Dialog. Lexis also has several accounting journals.

The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) is the principal trade association for U.S. accountants. The AICPA Web site posts information about the AICPA its publications and activities, accounting-related news, the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct, back issues of AICPA newsletters and journals, AcSEC Exposure Drafts and Comment Letters, and an extensive collection of links to accounting-related Web sites (

AICPA “Authoritative Materials” — such as its “Statements on Standards for Accounting and Review Services,” “Standards for Consulting Services,” “Statements of Position,” Practice Bulletins, Audit and Accounting Guides, Audit Risk Alters, etc. — are available through the subscription-only “reSOURCE online” database on, and through the CCH Accounting Research Manager (ARM) and RIA’s Checkpoint. If you have a choice, ARM and Checkpoint are much easier to use.

The best source for accounting materials in print is the University of Mississippi Library, which acquired the AICPA library collection. The Library provides reference services, document delivery, inter-library loans to AICPA members, researchers and other libraries.

Accounting in Foreign Legal Encyclopedias

For starting research in the law of a foreign country:

Link Description
Accounting Accounting in the World Legal Encyclopedia.
Accounting Accounting in the European Legal Encyclopedia.
Accounting Accounting in the Asian Legal Encyclopedia.
Accounting Accounting in the UK Legal Encyclopedia.
Accounting Accounting in the Australian Legal Encyclopedia.

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Accounting (Winding Up)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of accounting. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Winding Up is provided. Finally, the subject of General Partnerships in relation with accounting is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.

Finding the law: Accounting in the U.S. Code

A collection of general and permanent laws relating to accounting, passed by the United States Congress, are organized by subject matter arrangements in the United States Code (U.S.C.; this label examines accounting topics), to make them easy to use (usually, organized by legal areas into Titles, Chapters and Sections). The platform provides introductory material to the U.S. Code, and cross references to case law. View the U.S. Code’s table of contents here.


See Also

Accounting Firms
Accounting Principles
Accounting Principles Board
Accounting Standards
Actuary (Actuarial Information)
American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
Auditing Standards
Auditors’ Requests for Information
Certified Public Accountants (CPAs)
Comfort Letters
Emerging Issues Task Force
Financial Accounting Standards Board

Gaap in the context of Real Estate


See Also

  • Generally Accepted Accounting Principles

International Accounting Standards Committee (iasc) in the International Business Landscape

Definition of International Accounting Standards Committee (iasc) in the context of U.S. international business and public trade policy: Organization of representatives of 106 professional accounting organizations from 79 countries that is attempting to harmonize accounting standards across countries.