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Accounting is the language of business, it brings life to the otherwise lifeless business activities. It acts as a bridge between users of the information and the day to day transactions that occur inside a business. Users of accounting information may be inside or outside a business.
A) Internal Users
The internal users are owners, management and employees who are within the organisation.
The owners of a business provide capital to be used in the business. They are interested to know whether the business has earned profit or not during a particular period and also its financial position on a particular date. They want accounting reports in order to have an appraisal of performance and also for an assessment of future prospects to ensure that they will get their expected returns from the business and get back their capital safely.
Accounting data are the basis for most of the decisions made by the management. The trends in sales and purchases, relationship of expenses to the sales, efficiency of employees, comparative profitability of different departments, capital structure and solvency position are some of the vital data required by management for planning and controlling the business operations. Financial statements and other reports prepared under financial accounting provide this information to the management.
The employees are interested in the profit earning capacity of the business which will affect their remuneration, working conditions and retirement benefits and stability and growth of the enterprise.
B) External users
External users are the persons who are outside the organisation but make use of accounting information for their purposes. They are:
(i) Creditors and financial institutions
Suppliers of goods and services, commercial banks, public deposit holders and debentureholders are included in this category. They are interested in knowing the liquidity position and repaying capacity of the business to ensure the safety of getting the amount due to them or interest and the principal amount.
Persons who are interested in investing their funds in an organisation should know about the financial condition of a business unit while making their investment decisions. They are more concerned about future earnings and risk bearing capacity of the organisation which will affect the return to the investors.
Customers who buy and use the products and services of business enterprises are interested in knowing the details of the products and the prices charged to them. They are interested in knowing the stability and profitability of an enterprise to ensure continued supply of the products or services by the enterprise.
(iv) Tax authorities and other regulatory bodies
Accounting information helps the tax authorities in computing income tax and taxes on goods and services and other taxes to be collected from business units. Other regulatory bodies also require information about revenues, expenses and other financial aspects of business to ensure that the enterprises comply with statutory requirements.
The scarce resources of the country are used by business enterprises. Information about performance of business units in different industries helps the government in policy formulation for development of trade and industry, allocation of scarce resources, grant of subsidy, etc. Government also administers prices of certain commodities. In such cases, government agencies have to ensure that the guidelines for pricing are followed.
Researchers to carry out their research can use accounting information and make use of the published financial statements for analysis and evaluation.
(vii) General public
From accounting information, the general public at large can get a view of the earning capacity and stability of the enterprise as well as the social responsibility measures undertaken by the enterprise particularly in its area of operation and also the employment opportunities provided to the local people.