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Difference Between Accruals and Deferrals

Difference Between Accruals and Deferrals

If you have ever worked in accounting, then you know that accruals and deferrals make up an important part of the financial equation. It’s easy to get confused between the two – after all, they sound very similar when spoken! Nonetheless, it is vital for business owners and accounting professionals alike to understand how these concepts differ from each other. To help with this task, this blog is dedicated to unraveling the fascinating world of accruals and deferrals. From learning about their definitions and exploring hypothetical examples to discovering best practices that can be used in your own finances; by reading through these pages, you’ll gain a clearer understanding of how both concepts affect your business dealings. So let’s dive into a deeper investigation – what is the real difference between accrual vs deferral?

What are Accruals?

  • Accruals are a type of accounting transaction that works with the concept of matching revenue and expenses to the same point in time. Accruals facilitate the recording of revenue and expenses on a balance sheet when they have been earned or incurred but not yet received or paid in cash.
  • They are used to represent any obligations assumed or commitments made by a business that do not involve an exchange of cash. Accruals can help businesses accurately report their financial position, which is why keeping up-to-date records is so important for maintaining accurate accounting information.
  • Accruals allow companies to plan for the future more effectively by allowing them to know exactly what profits or losses should be reported during a certain period. Accrual accounting can thus provide an accurate picture of company finances for decision-makers.

What are Deferrals?

  • Deferrals are a type of accounting practice used to account for certain costs seen in a business. Deferrals involve recognizing expenses and revenue at a different time than when it was actually incurred or earned.
  • This method allows businesses to accurately assess the financial situation of their business over multiple accounting periods, as some larger costs may be recorded in one period while their associated benefits are spread out over multiple periods.
  • Deferrals are typically used with costs that are specifically related to future infrastructural development and maintenance, such as the cost of building new roads or hiring more staff in anticipation of increased demand. Deferrals can be extremely helpful in allowing businesses to accurately reflect the current market conditions and make accurate plans they need to reach their financial goals.

Difference Between Accruals and Deferrals

Accruals and deferrals are two accounting terms that often get confused, however, it is important to understand the difference between the two.

  • Accrual accounting recognizes revenues and expenses when they are incurred while deferral accounting recognizes them at a later date. Accruals refer to income that is earned but not yet officially recorded in the books of accounts.
  • On the other hand, deferred items refer to registering income or expenses that have been incurred but haven’t really made an impact yet on the profit/loss of the company.
  • Accruals must be reported in the balance sheet and income statement of a company along with all other assets, liabilities, total revenues, and total expenses while deferrals are only reported in the balance sheet.

Understanding these differences can help businesses manage their accounts effectively.


The main difference between accruals and deferrals is that accruals are recorded when revenue is earned but not yet received, while deferrals are expenses paid in advance. Accruals result in an increase in assets or a decrease in liabilities, while deferrals result in a decrease of assets or an increase of liabilities on the balance sheet. This simple distinction can have a big impact on your business finances, so it’s important to be familiar with both concepts.

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