Billing period

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In accounting and other specialist areas , the accounting period is the period for which accounting is carried out.


The word component "period" indicates that these are repetitive periods for which billing is provided for by law or by contract.

Accounting periods are in the economy needed to economic variables (such as the gross national product in the economics or the revenues in the Business Administration ) a given financial year , financial year , calendar year , tax period or year to assign or shorter periods of time. In this way, these quantities are distinguished from other quantities that occurred or will arise in earlier or later accounting periods. In addition, accounting periods allow a comparison of several accounting periods or different economic subjects ( company comparison ) in order to make changes or differences visible. There are accounting periods for both inventory and flow quantities .

Legal issues

In Section 240 (2) of the German Commercial Code ( HGB) it is stipulated that the duration of the financial year for companies must not exceed twelve months. As a rule, the financial year is the same as the calendar year, but deviations are permitted (e.g. in the case of seasonal businesses ). For this reason, the entire economy usually adopts the twelve-month calendar year as the accounting period.

Annual accounts , annual accounts , accounts , economic periods or interest accounts , all of which are based on calendar years, can be used for accounting with accounting periods . For example, the balance sheet as part of the annual financial statements usually begins on January 1 , the accounting period ends on December 31 of the same calendar year. It closes an accounting period and also serves as the opening balance sheet for the coming period.

The current account , which is also based on current accounts and other bank accounts , is closed once a year in accordance with Section 355 (2) HGB. The accounting period takes place “at regular intervals” (Section 355 (1) HGB). The financial year corresponds to the federal government in accordance with § 4 BHO the calendar year, which according to § 4 Haushaltsgrundsätzegesetz equally applies to the states. According to several tax laws , the assessment period is the calendar year (for example, Section 25 (1 ) EStG ), while Section 16 of the VAT Act refers to the tax period , which usually corresponds to the calendar year.

economic aspects

The accounting period is also the period for which partial invoices for the company's accounting system ( contribution margin accounting , income statement , cash flow accounting , cost and performance accounting ) are created. For purposes of internal accounting , periods shorter than one year (half-year, quarter or month) are also possible for an accounting period.

Consequently, those economic variables that affect several accounting periods must be delimited in time. Therefore, there is the Prepaid assign to economic variables of the correct accounting period. For this reason, Section 250 of the German Commercial Code (HGB) stipulates that expenses prior to the balance sheet date must be shown as prepaid expenses on the assets side of the balance sheet , insofar as they represent expenses for a certain period after this day. Correspondingly, income before the balance sheet date is to be shown on the liabilities side as prepaid expenses, insofar as it represents income for a certain period after this day. Accrual accounting is based on the principle that a financial year is only attributable to the success that actually arose in this accounting period. The income statement may only contain the expenses and income associated with the current accounting period. Also provisions serve the delimitation because they contain as contingent liabilities effort that could only arise in future accounting periods.

Individual evidence

  1. Reinhold Sellien, Business Administration Briefly , 1961, p. 89
  2. Peter Koch / Wieland Weiß (eds.), Gabler Versicherungs Lexikon , 1994, p. 671