What Does It Mean To “Close The Books”? Compass Accounting

the closing process is sometimes referred to as closing the books.

For example, a company would ensure that its expenses and income transactions are accurate on a monthly basis and then conduct a quarterly review ahead of an important meeting with the board or investors. By “closing the books,” a bookkeeper can seal financial records for a period of time and know that they’ll be accurate and orderly when reviewed again. Income Summary is a temporary closing account used to store the closing balance of revenue and expenses. After transferring the balance of revenue and expense accounts to the Income Summary account, you must subtract revenue from expenses and close the Income Summary to equity/retained earnings. To understand what it means to close the books, we first have to understand what the books are. They’re records of financial transactions – how often you’ll close them depends on the nature of your business – it may occur once a month, once a quarter, or even once a year.

Refining closing the books is a long-term project for many finance departments. They must contend with a variety of challenges and find solutions to the closing process is sometimes referred to as closing the books. avoid them. As one of your last steps, run the financial reports your colleagues in other departments need to form strategies and make decisions.


Post any new transactions from the bank statement to your accounting software. If there are a lot of new transactions to post, check if your software has an online banking connection to download transactions into your accounting system. Follow up on any transactions in your accounting system which did not appear on your bank statement. According to a survey by Ventana Research, in 2014, 58% of companies reported taking seven or more days to close their books. Adding to the stress and work levels is the deadline-oriented nature of the activity; the accounts must necessarily be closed by the last day of the month.

  • Cut time spent manually entering data by using a spend management solution.
  • The difference, which is $2,000 in this example, would be credited to the retained earnings.
  • You have been exposed to the concepts of recording and journalizing transactions previously, but this explains the rest of the accounting process.
  • Closing the books can help you stop payments from being recorded in the wrong period.
  • While accounting software can be sufficient for generating basic financial statements, financial reporting tools can provide an invaluable level of insights for businesses of all sizes.

When you close your books at year-end, the accounts aren’t erased; instead, their balances are transferred to a permanent retained earnings account. Occasionally, revenue and expenses are transferred to an intermediate account called an income summary. Adjusting entries record items that aren’t noted in daily transactions. These items include accumulation (known as “accrual” in accounting) of real estate taxes or depreciation accrual, which need to be recorded to close the books. For small businesses to streamline accounting close processes and maximize efficiency, a systematic approach should be implemented. Crafting a checklist of all necessary tasks that need to be performed during the closing process can help ensure you don’t overlook any step.

Step 6: Generate financial statements

Before creating your final report, generate a trial balance, and if things are not adding up, check your work and enter adjusting entries until you are ready to create the final financial statement. “The books” are a business’s revenue, expense, and income summary reports. Business owners can close their books by zeroing out their income and expense accounts and then plugging net profit (or loss) into the balance sheet. Once you’ve tracked and corrected any errors in the trial balance, you are ready to prepare financial reports, such as P&L statements and balance sheets.

The controller then “locks the books,” preventing anyone else from accessing the financial information for the recently ended period. An accountant would often apply the adjustment to the current month in which the error was discovered if it is discovered months or years after it was initially made. It is a type of correction called true-up entry, also known as a catch-up entry. The GL keeps track of all accounts, including liabilities, assets, equity, income, and costs, and offers a record of financial activities and data that have occurred during the course of the company’s existence. Data must be reconciled after being entered into the company’s accounting system.

Closing Expense Accounts

Finance teams must consider tax implications, audits, and due diligence requests. A developed bookkeeping process can help keep financial information available for compliance reasons and closing the books at the end of the financial period. This step logs these balances into permanent balance sheet records, formally adding the balances to the official financial data of the company. But infrequent reconciliations, such as at the end of each month, can lead to some common challenges for finance departments. Consider the step-by-step requirements of closing the books and how you can tweak these for a reconciliation process that better serves your startup’s needs.

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