A chart of accounts (COA) is a list of financial accounts set up, usually by an accountant, for an organization, and available for use by the bookkeeper for recording transactions in the organization's general ledger. Accounts may be added to the chart of accounts as needed; they would not generally be removed, especially if any transaction had been posted to the account or if there is a non-zero balance.
Accounts are usually grouped into categories, such as assets, liabilities, equity, revenue and expenses.
Accounts may be associated with an identifier (account number) and a caption or header and are coded by account type. In computerized accounting systems with computable quantity accounting, the accounts can have a quantity measure definition. Account numbers can use numerical, alphabetic, or alpha-numeric characters. However, in many computerized environments, like the SIE format, only numerical identifiers are allowed. The structure and headings of accounts should assist in consistent posting of transactions. Each nominal ledger account is unique, which allows its ledger to be located. The accounts are typically arranged in the order of the customary appearance of accounts in the financial statements: balance sheet accounts followed by profit and loss accounts.
The charts of accounts can be picked from a standard chart of accounts, like the BAS in Sweden. In some countries, charts of accounts are defined by the accountant from a standard general layouts or as regulated by law. However, in most countries it is entirely up to each accountant to design the chart of accounts.
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