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February 28, 2023

How Does US Accounting Differ From International Accounting?

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The economic field has a few bookkeeping paradigms: international accounting standards (IFRS) and generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). IFRS is known worldwide; more than 120 states have implemented these bookkeeping rules for their residents. The USA is the only large nation that has not yet realized such a computing variant. To expand a company globally and domestically, financial professionals and entrepreneurs must comprehend the features of US accounting and multinational bookkeeping.

What do we know about GAAP?

GAAP are economic directives approved by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). American bookkeepers must stick to the procedures set out in GAAP while making tax reports.

GAAP is guided by ten main principles, including regularity, sincerity, consistency of methods, etc.

All publicly traded enterprises in the USA, except foreign firms, must utilize GAAP bookkeeping technology.

Some words about IFRS

IFRS is a bookkeeping structure that provides the correct coordination and presentation of financial insights. It relies on the directives of the London Reporting Standards Board.

IFRS asks businesses to inform about the outcomes of operations and economic position under similar rules. It eliminates any fraudulent actions and unifies the registers of all firms that employ the recording technique, making it more straightforward to compare their performance results.

Investors may process an enterprise’s IFRS indicators to make rational decisions.

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Basic distinctions between American and global bookkeeping

Since 2002, the rapprochement of these variants of norms has begun. Later, multinational firms in the USA had the right not to update their fiscal papers with GAAP if their records met the conditions of IFRS. Experts are confident the USA will move to international directives over time, but this is unlikely to happen quickly. Although the distinctions between bookkeeping rollings are becoming smaller, many aspects are still varied; let’s consider them in more detail.

Rules or principles?

GAAP is a rules-backed model, while IFRS deals with principles. Under GAAP, there are field-specific norms and tips for private enterprise, while IFRS specifies directives that demand interpretation to comprehend their application in some instances. However, the FASB and IASB convergence programs have resulted in updated GAAP and international accounting directives that share a general principle-backed route.

How Does US Accounting Differ From International Accounting?

Balance sheet

The American balance algorithm varies from financial records in other regions. In GAAP documents, you may see short-term assets first, while in the IFRS table, everything commences with long-term belongings.

Such directives provide various paths for streamlining balance objects. In GAAP, articles are listed according to how quickly the enterprise may transform them into cash. Things are arranged in decreasing order of liquidity: working capital, long-term belongings, obligations, and personal capital.

In IFRS, the placement algorithm of articles is reversed (from less liquid to more liquid): long-term belongings, short-term resources, equity, and obligations.

Statement of capital movements

A statement of movements in equity is a document showing cash movement within a business over a specified time. GAAP and IFRS treat capital movements differently, especially regarding payments.

By reference to US accounting rules, a percentage obtained and paid, and dividends got, are available in the «Transaction» block, and dividends paid – are in the «Funding» line. You may find all percentages and rewards in the transactions or funding section in IFRS.

Overestimation of resources

Under GAAP, long-term resources cannot be overrated, while IFRS lets minor overestimation.

For GAAP, depreciation of long-term resources is an extreme case, while according to IFRS, such depreciation is a mandatory procedure if resource elements have various patterns of profits.

According to IFRS conditions, long-term belongings are recorded at cost, while US accounting does not define the concept of investment property.

Reserves estimation techniques

GAAP and IFRS use different reserve evaluation systems. Some paths to define inventory include FIFO, LIFO, and weighted index. Let’s discuss their features.

  • FIFO: such a reporting system supports the normal movement of reserves by suggesting the oldest products go off immediately.
  • LIFO: this kind of bookkeeping contrasts FIFO and stipulates the commodities entered last must be shipped immediately.
  • Weighted inventory interacts with the average worth of goods that stay in stock at the moment of the deal, which gives values that may be then used to identify the ultimate reserves and fees of commodities shipped.

According to GAAP, American firms can use any listed ways to compute reserves. At the same time, IFRS lets firms employ weighted inventory or FIFO, but not LIFO. According to experts, the LIFO system can artificially underestimate revenues and incorrectly display the movement of reserves.


Despite essential distinctions between the conditions of the GAAP system developed by the FASB and the IFRS kit of tips, both institutions try to add optimal requests to their system to form perfect global financial directives. Such a merger of bookkeeping regulations is intended to strengthen the world economy.

Although US firms use GAAP occasionally, they have to deal with IFRS standards, e.g., if they have subsidiaries or members (buyers, investors, suppliers) outside the US. In such a situation, American corporations are often asked to provide financial information by IFRS norms.

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Author: Charles Lutwidge

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