Affairs of the business can be studied mainly by consulting final accounts and the balance sheet of the particular business. Final accounts and the balance sheet are end products of book-keeping. Because of the importance of these statements it became necessary for the accountants to develop some principles, concepts and conventions which may be regarded as fundamentals of accounting. Such fundamentals having wide acceptance give reliability and creditability to the financial statements prepared by the accountants. The need for ‘generally accepted accounting principles’ arises for two reasons: First, to be logical and consistent in recording the transactions and second, to conform to, the established practices and procedures.
There is no agreement among the accountants as regards the basic concepts of accounting. There is no uniformity in generally accepted accounting principles (GAPP). The terms-axioms, assumptions, conventions, concepts, generalizations, methods, rules, doctrines, techniques, postulates, standards and canons are used freely and inconsistently in the same sense.
“A general law or rule, adopted or professed as a guide to action, a settled ground or basis of conduct or practice.” This definition given by dictionaries comes nearest to describing what most accountants mean by the word ‘Principle’. Care should be taken to make it clear that as applied to accounting practice, the world principle, does not connote a rule for which there can be no deviation. An accounting principle is not a principle in the sense that it admits of no conflict with other principles.
Mean to assume without proof, to take for granted or positive consent, a position assumed as self- evident. Postulates are assumptions but they are not arbitrary deliberate assumptions but generally recognized assumptions which reflect the judgment of ‘facts’ or trend or events, assumptions which have been borne out in past by facts supposed by legal institutions making them enforceable to some extent.
Mean principles of belief: what the scriptures teach on any subject. It refer to an established principle propagated by a teacher which is followed in strict faith. But in accounting practice, no such doctrine need be adhered to but the word denotes the general principles or policies to be followed.