Revenue Recognition Principles: Explained

What is it, how to calculate it, formula, why it's important

Hey there, fellow business enthusiasts! As a CFO, revenue is my jam. And if you're anything like me, then you know that recognizing revenue is one of the most important things you can do for your company. But what exactly are revenue recognition principles, and how do they work? Don't worry, folks - I've got you covered.

What are Revenue Recognition Principles?

Revenue recognition principles are a set of accounting rules that determine when and how revenue should be recognized by a company. In simpler terms, these principles dictate the timing of when a company should record revenue on its financial statements. Why is this important? Because timing matters! Accurate revenue recognition allows companies to present a realistic picture of their financial performance, which is crucial for investors, lenders, and other stakeholders.

Why are Revenue Recognition Principles Changing?

As someone in the finance industry, I know that change is inevitable. And that's certainly the case with regards to revenue recognition principles. In May 2014, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) issued new joint standards for revenue recognition. These standards replaced most existing revenue recognition guidance in U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and created a single, comprehensive revenue recognition model. The new standards aim to improve comparability of revenue recognition practices across industries, companies, and jurisdictions.

What are the New Revenue Recognition Principles?

The new revenue recognition principles have five basic steps:

  1. Identify the contract with a customer
  2. Identify the performance obligations in the contract
  3. Determine the transaction price
  4. Allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract
  5. Recognize revenue when (or as) the entity satisfies a performance obligation

Now, I won't go into too much detail about each of these steps because, let's face it, that would make this article way too long. But if you want a more in-depth explanation, be sure to consult a qualified accountant or the full text of the new standards.

What are the Benefits of the New Revenue Recognition Principles?

Of course, you're probably wondering - why do we need these new principles, anyways? Well, here are a few of the benefits:

  • More accurate revenue recognition: The new standards provide a more robust framework for recognizing revenue, which will help companies capture revenue in a more accurate and timely manner.
  • Improved comparability: With more consistent revenue recognition practices, investors and other stakeholders can better compare financial information across industries, companies, and jurisdictions.
  • Increased transparency: The new standards require companies to provide more detailed disclosures about their revenue recognition practices, which can help investors and other stakeholders make more informed decisions about a company's financial health.


In sum, revenue recognition principles are a crucial aspect of any company's financial performance. With the new, more comprehensive revenue recognition model, companies can ensure accurate revenue recognition and provide more transparent information to investors and other stakeholders. As always, be sure to consult a qualified accountant for any accounting-related questions or concerns. Thanks for reading, and happy revenue-recognizing!

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