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Whilst we’re here to manage all of your accounting tasks and provide expert tax planning advice, many of our clients like to know what the key accountancy terminology means when it comes to running their finances. Below is an A-Z of accounting terms to help you cut through the financial jargon. 
 
Accounts payable 
Money that you owe to your suppliers in exchange for goods or services provided. 
 
Accounts receivable 
Money due from customers in exchange for products or services you’ve supplied to them. 
 
Accounts 
Financial statements prepared at the end of a period, such as a month, quarter or full year. These outline your profit or loss during that period and explain where you stand financially. 
 
Accounting period 
The time period for which financial statements are prepared, such as a month, quarter or year. 
 
Accruals basis 
An accounting method that records revenues and expenses when they are incurred, regardless of when cash is exchanged. The term "accrual" refers to any individual entry that records revenue or expense in the absence of a cash transaction. 
 
Assets 
Anything that a business owns or uses, such as equipment, machinery and commercial property. 
 
Audit 
An official inspection of an organisation's accounts, typically by an independent body. HMRC may organise an audit of your business by one of its tax inspectors to ensure that all dealings are compliant. 
 
Bad debt 
An amount of money owed to a creditor that is unlikely to be paid. 
 
Balance sheet 
A statement of the assets, liabilities and capital of your business. This document shows details of the balance of income and expenditure over the preceding period. 
 
Bookkeeping 
Bookkeeping is the meticulous recording of your company’s financial transactions. 
 
Business growth 
Every business should have a tailored strategy in place that will enable it to grow sustainably. We’re here to help! 
Capital 
An amount of finance provided, generally by the owners or shareholders, to enable a business to acquire assets and sustain its operations. 
 
Cash flow projections 
Statements detailing the cash that’s expected to flow into and out of your business over a particular period. 
 
Corporation tax 
Tax payable by companies, based on the taxable profits of the period. Corporation tax is due payment 9 months and 1 day after the end of your accounting period for the previous financial year – usually 1st January. 
 
Cost of goods sold 
Any materials, labour and other costs directly related to the goods you sell and services you provide. 
 
Credit 
When referring to the terms of business, credit is when a supplier agrees to allow the customer to make payment within an agreed period after the delivery of goods or services. Typical trader credit periods range from 30 to 60 days, although this can differ according to the individual supplier. 
 
Credit control 
Credit control is a business strategy that prevents late payments and the extending of credit to businesses that are unlikely to pay on time. 
Credit note 
A document summarising the reduction in charge on an invoice. This could be because part or all of the product or service has been returned or cancelled. 
 
Creditor 
A person or organisation that your business owes money to as payment for their goods/services. 
 
Current asset 
An asset (such as equipment or land) that is expected to be converted into cash within the trading cycle. 
 
Current liability 
A liability which is expected to be settled in the entity’s normal operating cycle, generally within 12 months after the balance sheet date. 
 
Debit 
In bookkeeping terms, debit is any entry in the debit column that represents a payment made or owed. 
 
Debtor 
A person or organisation that owes money to your business for goods/services supplied. 
 
Deferred income 
Money received for goods or services which has not yet been earned. 
 
Depreciation 
The reduction of a tangible asset’s value over time, such as machinery or vehicles. 
 
Director(s) 
The person(s) appointed by shareholders of a limited company to manage its operations and affairs. 
 
Dividend 
An amount paid to a shareholder, out of a company’s post-tax profits, as a reward for investment in the company. The amount of dividend paid is proportionate to the number of shares held. 
 
Downturn in business 
If you’re noticing a downturn in business, it’s crucial that you keep an eye on your cash and overheads. We can help you to stay in control of your finances, which in turn will enable you to overcome a downturn in business and prevent future occurrences. 
Drawings 
Cash taken for personal use in sole trader or partnership businesses, treated as a reduction of ownership interest. 
 
Entity and entities 
Something that exists independently, such as a business which exists independently of the owner. 
 
Equity 
The remaining value of an owner’s interest in a company, after all liabilities have been deducted. 
 
Expenses 
The costs involved in running a business. Expenses can cover all kinds of activity, such as business travel and accommodation, wages, leases and equipment. 
 
Fixed asset 
A long-term tangible object owned by a business. Common examples are equipment, vehicles, buildings and land. 
 
Fixed cost 
A cost that doesn’t change in line with the company’s sales activity, such as commercial rent, insurance and utilities. 
 
Forecast 
A financial forecast gives an estimate of the future performance of the business based on historic cost/sales data and a prediction of upcoming business activity. 
Gross 
The total cost or value of something prior to any deductions. 
 
Gross profit/margin 
Your sales total after subtracting costs related to the manufacturing, marketing and selling processes, but before tax and business operating costs are subtracted. 
 
Historical cost 
The original cost/value of an asset when acquired by the business. 
 
Intangible fixed asset 
An asset that isn’t physical in nature, such as intellectual property, trademarks, copyrights and patents. 
 
Inventory 
Any stock, component parts or raw materials owned by your business. 
 
Invoice 
A document provided to the customer by the supplier that summarises goods or services supplied, their individual costs, the total amount payable, and when payment need to be made. 
 
Joint account 
A financial account (such as a bank account) owned by two or more people who share equal responsibility over the company’s finances. 
 
Leasing 
Rather than buying an asset, leasing is when a business takes out a contract to essentially rent out the physical object or service. 
 
Liabilities 
Debts owed by your business. 
 
Limited liability 
A type of legal protection for the shareholders and owners of a business. As a result, they are not personally responsible for their company’s debts or financial losses. 
 
Liquidity 
The extent to which a business has access to cash, or items which can readily be exchanged for cash. 
 
Management accounts 
Management accounts are financial reports created on a monthly or quarterly basis that outline the financial performance of the business. 
Making Tax Digital 
HMRC has launched Making Tax Digital to ensure that businesses use computer software for their tax administration. This online system replaces paper/book-based ledgers. 
 
Net assets 
The value of a company's assets minus its liabilities. 
 
Net profit 
The amount of money your business earns after deducting all of its operating costs and tax bills during a specific period. 
 
Outsourcing 
Accounting, payroll and tax planning are time-consuming and complex, which is why TreyBridge Accountants offers you the option to outsource these tasks to our team. 
Partnership 
When two or more people oversee business operations and share its profits and liabilities. 
 
Prepayment 
The payment of a bill, operating expense or instalment loan before its official due date. 
 
Profit and loss 
A detailed financial statement that shows all revenues, expenses and profit. 
 
Provision 
A liability of uncertain timing or amount. For instance, your business could set aside money for an expense that you know is coming, even though the finer details are yet to be agreed. 
 
QuickBooks 
We use QuickBooks accounting software for many of our clients, as it provides fast, secure and reliable online management of invoices, bills, tax and other financial activity. 
 
R&D Tax Credits 
If your business carries out any kind of research and development, you should be able to claim R&D Tax Credits that will help you to significantly lower your tax liabilities. 
Reserves 
Profits set aside by the business for a specific purpose in the future. 
 
Retained earnings 
The earnings of a business after wages, production costs, dividends and other fees have been accounted for. 
 
Secured loan 
A loan that has been offered by a lender against a particular asset. This gives the lender protection in the event that the loan is not paid back. 
 
Self-assessment tax returns 
A self-assessment tax return is used to calculate how much tax you owe to HMRC, which is worked out from the earnings you declare on the form. If you don’t have time to do this yourself, get in touch with TreyBridge today. 
Shareholders 
The owners of a limited company. 
 
Sole trader 
A self-employed individual who owns and operates a business on their own. Sole traders keep all of the profits of a business after tax has been paid and are also personally responsible for any losses. 
 
Stakeholders 
Individuals, groups and organisations that are affected by the activity of the business, including its owners. 
 
Stock 
As with inventory, stock refers to any products, component parts or raw materials owned by the business. 
 
Tangible fixed assets 
Unlike intangible assets, a tangible fixed asset has a physical form. Common examples are machinery, buildings and land. 
 
Turnover 
The total amount of revenue/sales after tax and VAT. 
 
Undeposited funds account 
A holding account that tracks payments received from customers that haven’t yet been deposited into the main bank account of the business. 
 
VAT 
Tax added to most products and services by a VAT registered business. If your taxable turnover is above £85,000 a year, your business must register for VAT, although you also have the option to do so beforehand. 
 
Working capital 
The amount of cash available to the business once current liabilities (amounts owed within 3-12 months) have been subtracted. 
 
Xero 
We highly recommend Xero to business of all shapes and sizes, as it’s a secure, versatile and easy-to-use cloud accounting website and app that helps you to keep track of sales, bills, receipts and cash flow. 
Year-to-date 
The period between the first day of the fiscal year and the current date. 
 
Zero-based budgeting 
A method of budgeting in which all expenses must be justified and approved for each new accounting period, rather than accepting them simply because they’re already in place. 
 

Need help with accounting, payroll or tax planning? 

We help sole traders, limited companies, partnerships, charities, trusts, individuals and families to navigate their numbers and pay less tax. To find out more, call our Yorkshire office on 01482 235575, our London office on 0207 885 0605, or fill in the contact form below. 
 
Tagged as: Accountancy
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