Zgodnie z definicją prof. Zbigniewa Messnera zasady rachunkowości to zbiór obowiązujących reguł, procedur i norm, które są stosowane w praktyce, aby dostarczane informacje o sytuacji majątkowej przedsiębiorstwa, jego działalności gospodarczej i osiąganych wynikach finansowych były pełne, jasne, rzetelne i użyteczne. Przygotowałam zestawienie najważniejszych zasad rachunkowości, w którym zawarłam polskie nazwy tych zasad, ich angielskie odpowiedniki, krótki opis zaczerpnięty z anglojęzycznych podręczników do rachunkowości oraz charakterystykę większości zasad wg MSSF (podaną w "Założeniach koncepcyjnych MSSF" - "The Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting" lub w "MRS 1: Prezentacja sprawozdań finansowych" - "IAS 1: Presentation of Financial Statements"). Większość z tych zasad została także zawarta w ustawie o rachunkowości - w takich przypadkach po polskiej nazwie zasady podaję w nawiasie odesłanie do konkretnego przepisu tej ustawy.
Jeśli chodzi o nazewnictwo angielskie, to na określenie "zasady" w terminie "zasady rachunkowości" używane są głównie następujące słowa: concepts, assumptions, principles, conventions, doctrines, rules, postulates, propositions, fundamentals, przy czym często w różnych klasyfikacjach zasady są dzielone na dwa lub więcej typów i w ramach każdego typu stosowane jest inne słowo. Np. Amerykański Instytut Dyplomowanych Biegłych Rewidentów (AICPA) dzieli zasady rachunkowości (accounting principles) na dwie grupy: accounting conventions i accounting doctrines. W źródłach europejskich dominują określenia assumptions i concepts, trudno jednak dostrzec konsekwencję w ich stosowaniu w odniesieniu do konkretnych zasad. W poniższym zestawieniu odwzorowałam terminologię zastosowaną w podręcznikach do rachunkowości (przywołane na końcu opracowania), z których zaczerpnęłam opisy zasad, co skutkowało tym, że przy większości z nich występuje słowo concept. Myślę jednak, że można je zastępować innymi określeniami spośród wyżej podanych.
Zasada jasnego i rzetelnego obrazu / zasada wiarygodności (art. 4 ust. 1 ) - true and fair view concept / faithful representation concept
"Financial reports represent economic phenomena in words and numbers. To be useful, financial information must not only represent relevant phenomena, but it must also faithfully represent the phenomena that it purports to represent. To be a perfectly faithful representation, a depiction would have three characteristics. It would be complete, neutral and free from error." [Framework, paragraph QC12]
Zasada przewagi treści nad formą (art. 4 ust. 2) - substance over form concept
"It can happen that the legal form of a transaction can differ from its real substance. Where this happens, accounting should show the transaction in accordance with its real substance which is, basically, how the transaction affects the economic situation of the business. This means that accounting in this instance will not reflect the exact legal position concerning that transaction." 
"In assessing whether an item meets the definition of an asset, liability or equity, attention needs to be given to its underlying substance and economic reality and not merely its legal form. Thus, for example, in the case of finance leases, the substance and economic reality are that the lessee acquires the economic benefits of the use of the leased asset for the major part of its useful life in return for entering into an obligation to pay for that right an amount approximating to the fair value of the asset and the related finance charge. Hence, the finance lease gives rise to items that satisfy the definition of an asset and a liability and are recognised as such in the lessee's balance sheet." [Framework, paragraph 4.6]
Zasada podmiotowości / zasada podmiotu gospodarczego - business entity concept
"The affairs of a business are to be treated as being quite separate from the non-business activities of its owner(s). The items recorded in the books of the business are, therefore, restricted to the transactions of the business." 
Zasada periodyzacji - accounting period concept / periodicity concept
"Economic activity can be meaningfully divided into arbitrary time periods." 
Zasada pomiaru pieniężnego (art. 9) - monetary concept / money measurement concept
"Money, as the common denominator for the expression of economic activity, should be used to measure accounting events and transactions." 
Zasada kontynuacji działalności (art. 5 ust.2) - going concern concept / continuity concept
"In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the entity is assumed to remain in operation sufficiently long to carry out its objectives and plans." 
"An entity shall prepare financial statements on a going concern basis unless management either intends to liquidate the entity or to cease trading, or has no realistic alternative but to do so. When management is aware, in making its assessment, of material uncertainties related to events or conditions that may cast significant doubt upon the entity's ability to continue as a going concern, the entity shall disclose those uncertainties." [IAS 1, paragraph 25]
Zasada bilansowa / zasada dualizmu / zasada dwustronnego (podwójnego) zapisu (art. 15 ust. 1) - dual aspect concept / duality concept / accounting equation concept
"There are two aspects of accounting, one represented by the assets of the business and the other by the claims against them. These two aspects are always equal to each other. In other words, this is the alternate form of the accounting equation: Assets = Capitals + Liabilities. Double entry is the name given to the method of recording transactions under the dual aspect concept." 
Zasada memoriału / zasada memoriałowa (art. 6 ust. 1) - accruals concept
"All income and charges relating to the financial period to which the financial statements relate should be taken into account without regard to the date of receipt or payment." 
"Accrual accounting depicts the effects of transactions and other events and circumstances on a reporting entity's economic resources and claims in the periods in which those effects occur, even if the resulting cash receipts and payments occur in a different period. This is important because information about a reporting entity's economic resources and claims and changes in its economic resources and claims during a period provides a better basis for assessing the entity's past and future performance than information solely about cash receipts and payments during that period." [Framework, paragraph QB17]
Zasada współmierności przychodów i związanych z nimi kosztów (art. 6 ust. 2) - matching concept
"Net income is best measured by a matching of costs against the revenues to which the costs have given rise." 
"Expenses are recognised in the income statement on the basis of a direct association between the costs incurred and the earning of specific items of income. This process, commonly referred to as the matching of costs with revenues, involves the simultaneous or combined recognition of revenues and expenses that result directly and jointly from the same transactions or other events; for example, the various components of expense making up the cost of goods sold are recognised at the same time as the income derived from the sale of the goods." [Framework, paragraph 4.50]
Zasada ostrożności / zasada ostrożnej wyceny (art. 7 ust.1) - prudence concept / conservatism concept
"The accountant should make certain that assets are not valued too highly. Similarly, liabilities should not be shown at values that are too low. (...) The accountant should always exercise caution when dealing with uncertainty while, at the same time, ensuring that the financial statements are neutral - that gains and losses are neither overstated nor understated." 
Zasada kosztu historycznego / zasada wyceny po cenie nabycie (koszcie wytworzenia) / zasada wyceny historycznej (art. 7 ust. 1) - historical cost concept
"Assets are normally shown at cost price and this is the basis for valuation of the asset." 
"Assets are recorded at the amount of cash or cash equivalents paid or the fair value of the consideration given to acquire them at the time of their acquisition. Liabilities are recorded at the amount of proceeds received in exchange for the obligation, or in some circumstances (for example, income taxes), at the amounts of cash or cash equivalents expected to be paid to satisfy the liability in the normal course of business." [Framework, paragraph 4.55]
Zasada indywidualnej wyceny / zasada zakazu kompensat (art. 7 ust. 3) - separate determination concept / non-compensation principle
"In determining the aggregate amount of each asset or liability, the amount of each individual asset or liability should be determined separately from all other assets and liabilities. (...) The separate determination concept prohibits the netting-off of potential liabilities and potential gains." 
"An entity shall not offset assets and liabilities or income and expenses, unless required or permitted by an IFRS.
An entity reports separately both assets and liabilities, and income and expenses. Offsetting in the statements of comprehensive income or financial position or in the separate income statement (if presented), except when offsetting reflects the substance of the transaction or other event, detracts from the ability of users both to understand the transactions, other events and conditions that have occurred and to assess the entity's future cash flows. Measuring assets net of valuation allowances - for example, obsolescence allowances on inventories and doubtful debts allowances on receivables - is not offsetting." [IAS 1, paragraph 32]
Zasada istotności (art. 8 ust. 1 i art. 4 ust 4) - materiality concept
"Any amount or transaction that has a significant (material) effect on the financial statements should be recorded correctly and reported. However, transactions of trivial amounts can be recorded in the most expedient way. In addition, minor items (immaterial ones) do not need to be reported in detail." 
"An entity shall present separately each material class of similar items. An entity shall present separately items of a dissimilar nature or function unless they are immaterial." [IAS 1, paragraph 29]
Zasada kompletności / zasada pełnego ujawniania (art. 20 ust. 1) - completeness of disclosure concept / full disclosure concept
"Financial statements should present information thoroughly and understandably to users of the reports." 
"A complete depiction includes all information necessary for a user to understand the phenomenon being depicted, including all necessary descriptions and explanations. For example, a complete depiction of a group of assets would include, at a minimum, a description of the nature of the assets in the group, a numerical depiction of all of the assets in the group, and a description of what the numerical depiction represents (for example, original cost, adjusted cost or fair value). For some items, a complete depiction may also entail explanations of significant facts about the quality and nature of the items, factors and circumstances that might affect their quality and nature, and the process used to determine the numerical depiction." [Framework, paragraph QC13]
Zasada ciągłości-porównywalności (art. 5 ust. 1 i art. 8 ust. 2) - consistency-comparability concept
"When a business has once fixed a method for the accounting treatment of an item, it will enter all similar items that follow in exactly the same way.
However, it does not mean that the business has to follow the method until the business closes down. A business can change the method used, but such a change is not made without a lot of consideration. When such a change occurs and the profits calculated in that year are affected by a material amount (...) then, either in the profit and loss account itself or in one of the reports that accompany it, the effect of the change should be stated." 
"An entity shall retain the presentation and classification of items in the financial statements from one period to the next (...). An entity changes the presentation of its financial statements only if the changed presentation provides information that is reliable and more relevant to users of the financial statements and the revised structure is likely to continue, so that comparability is not impaired.
When the entity changes the presentation or classification of items in its financial statements, the entity shall reclassify comparative amounts unless reclassification is impracticable." [IAS 1, paragraphs 45-46 and 41]
 Earl A. Spiller, Jr., Phillip T. May "Financial Accounting. Basic Concepts" (Richard D. Irwin, Inc., 1990)
 Frank Wood, Alan Sangster "Business Accounting. UK GAAP 1" (Pearson Education Limited, 2008)
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