What Is the Realization Principle in Accounting?


What Is the Realization Principle in Accounting?

realization principle accounting

The revenue is recognized when the customer pays for the product at the time of purchase. For example, revenue is earned when services are provided or products are shipped https://www.bookstime.com/articles/realization-principle to the customer and accepted by the customer. In the case of the realization principle, performance, and not promises, determines when revenue should be booked.

The revenue recognition principle, a feature of accrual accounting, requires that revenues are recognized on the income statement in the period when realized and earned—not necessarily when cash is received. Realizable means that goods or services have been received by the customer, but payment for the good or service is expected later. Earned revenue accounts for goods or services that have been provided or performed, respectively. The revenue recognition principle is a fundamental accounting concept that guides the recognition of revenue in a business’s financial statements. It’s crucial for businesses to accurately report their revenue, as it impacts their financial performance and the decisions made by investors, creditors, and other stakeholders.


There are several methods of revenue recognition that a company can use to report its revenue in its financial statements. These methods differ in terms of when revenue is recognized and how it’s reported. For example, if a customer orders a custom-designed piece of furniture, the company may have several distinct performance obligations, including the design, the manufacturing, and the delivery of the furniture. Each of these obligations must be identified, and revenue should be recognized when each obligation is completed.

realization principle accounting

To match the expenses of producing the product with the revenues generated by the product, the expenses and revenues are recognized simultaneously. A second scenario is when the payment for corresponding goods is made after the goods have been delivered. Again, the accountant is not going to wait for receiving cash to recognize revenue. Instead, according to the recognition principle, a receivables account will be created and the revenue is going to be realized the moment it is earned i.e. at the time delivery of goods has been made.

Applicability of the Realization Principle to Money Claims in Common Dollar Accounting

The matching principle requires that expenses incurred to produce revenue must be deducted from revenue earned in an accounting period to derive net income. The matching principle also requires that estimates be made, based on experience and economic conditions, for the purpose of providing for doubtful accounts. This provision leads to a reduction of gross revenue to net realizable revenue to prevent the overstatement of revenues.

What is the difference between realization principle and recognition principle?

As a process of recording revenue, recognition is continuous. Realization is the point when recognition ends. The former is precise and accurate, while the latter is an estimate. For companies deferring revenue, this is important for accurate forecasting.

This principle specifies the timing and conditions under which revenue should be recognized, and it’s an essential aspect of financial reporting that affects a company’s profitability and financial health. If services are to be rendered at a point in time the revenue is recognized as soon as the services have been performed. But if the services are to be provided continuously for more than one accounting period under consideration, then the ‘percentage completion https://www.bookstime.com/ method’, is followed. According to this method, the revenue is recorded based on the percentage of total services rendered. In other words, the revenue recognition principle is a crucial concept in accounting that guides the recognition and reporting of revenue in a company’s financial statements. By adhering to this principle, a company can provide accurate and reliable financial information that can be used by stakeholders to make informed decisions.

Realization Principle of Accounting FAQs

For example, if a customer orders a subscription-based service, revenue can be recognized when the service is provided to the customer, and the customer has control over the service. If the customer cancels the subscription before the end of the subscription period, revenue can’t be recognized for the remaining period. For example, if a customer has a history of non-payment or if the customer’s creditworthiness is in question, the company may not be able to assure collectability. In this case, revenue can’t be recognized until the collectability issue is resolved. For example, if a customer orders a product from a company’s website, a contract is formed when the customer accepts the terms and conditions of the purchase.

For example, a software company that provides subscription-based services to a customer for one year could use the percentage of completion method to recognize revenue. 1/12 of the total revenue is recognized each month based on the percentage of the services provided to the customer. These criteria ensure that revenue is recognized when it’s earned, and the company has completed its obligations to the customer. By following these criteria, a company can provide reliable and accurate financial information to its stakeholders. The revenue recognition principle is a fundamental accounting concept that guides how revenue should be recognized and recorded in a company’s financial statements.

Understanding Revenue Recognition

If the transaction involves income, the revenue should be recognized at the time the income is due. The realization principle states that revenues are only recognized when they are realized. In this case, under the realization principle, revenue is earned in May (i.e., when the transfer took place, notwithstanding the fact that the order was received in April and cash was received in June).

realization principle accounting

As a result, there are several situations in which there can be exceptions to the revenue recognition principle. According to the realisation concept, the revenues should be realized or recorded at the time when the goods or services have been delivered to the purchaser. Here, the transaction is being recorded based on the transfer of goods/services from the seller to the buyer and not based on the transfer of risk and rewards. This realization principle has been the foundation of the accrual basis of accounting which presents a similar concept. For example, a retailer that sells products to customers at a physical store would use the point of sale method to recognize revenue.

Furthermore, revenue should be recognized when goods are sold or services are rendered, whether cash is received or not. As such, regulators know how tempting it is for companies to push the limits on what qualifies as revenue, especially when not all revenue is collected when the work is complete. For example, attorneys charge their clients in billable hours and present the invoice after work is completed. According to the realization principle, the revenue is recognized at the time of the sale. Imagine yourself as an online clothing brand that has received an order of two dresses. The buyer is given the option of paying through a credit card or cash on delivery.

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