Chart of accounts
The chart of accounts is a list where the elements necessary for the accounting of the operations carried out by a company appear. These elements include both assets, liabilities and equity, as well as expenses and income incurred by the company.
This list allows an important simplification in the control of accounting. For example, in an operation that affects the capital stock, it is sufficient to indicate the numbering established in the chart of accounts; which in this case would be 100.
The chart of accounts is one of the five parts into which the Spanish General Accounting Plan is divided. The others are the conceptual framework, the recording and valuation standards, the annual accounts, and the accounting definitions and relationships.
Chart of accounts structure
In the chart of accounts we find a division of the elements at different levels, from more generic to more specific:
- The group: Refers to the most general level, and is numbered with one digit. The chart of accounts is divided into nine groups: basic financing; non-current assets; stocks; creditors and debtors for various operations; financial accounts; purchases and expenses; sales and income; expenses charged to equity; income imputed to equity. For example, core funding corresponds to group 1.
- The subgroup: It is coded with two digits. It refers to a less generic scope than the group. Examples of subgroups are 21, referring to property, plant and equipment; or 44, various debtors.
- The account: It is coded with three digits. It is the most used subdivision in accounting. The advantage of using accounts is that they are concrete enough and, at the same time, less complex than the next level, the subaccount. Examples of accounts are 430, which is the customer account; or 640, referring to wages and salaries.
- The subaccount: It is encoded with four digits and is, with some exceptions, the most specific level offered by the chart of accounts. An example of a subaccount is the 4700 referred to the Public Treasury, debtor by VAT.
Usefulness and obligatory nature of the chart of accounts
The use of the chart of accounts is not mandatory for companies. Many of them have their own chart of accounts, since the one offered by the General Accounting Plan may not be specific enough. Others choose alternate charts for convenience or confidentiality.
However, for smaller companies, the chart of accounts is a very useful guide to carry out their accounting. There is also a chart of accounts for SMEs; much more simplified than the general.
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