Tax accounting in the United States concentrates on the preparation, analysis and presentation of tax payments and tax returns. The U.S. tax system requires the use of specialised accounting principles for tax purposes which can differ from the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) for financial reporting. U.S. tax law covers four basic forms of business ownership: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and limited liability company. Corporate and personal income are taxed at different rates, both varying according to income levels and including varying marginal rates (taxed on each additional dollar of income) and average rates (set as a percentage of overall income).
A medical equipment manufacturer receives an order for equipment to be shipped to a hospital. The order is placed on May 1 and the equipment ships June 1. Payment is received on August 1. The medical equipment manufacturer records the revenue on May 1 – the date the sales contract is received (or accrued) – rather than on August 1 when the payment is received.
The financial statements that summarize a large company's operations, financial position and cash flows over a particular period are concise and consolidated reports based on thousands of individual financial transactions. As a result, all accounting designations are the culmination of years of study and rigorous examinations combined with a minimum number of years of practical accounting experience.