Skip to Main Content

Simple Explanation of the Modified Cash Basis of Accounting

  1. Blog
  2. Simple Explanation of the Modified Cash Basis of Accounting
The Hall Accounting Company Logo in white, on top of a dark patterned background

The modified cash basis of accounting is a mixture of the accrual and cash basis accounting systems. It is acceptable for small businesses that do their accounting on a cash basis but want to use certain aspects of accrual accounting.

Proficiency in accounting is a vital skill for any small business owner. A key issue is the accounting method you use to record your business transactions. These methods must comply with the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). This ensures consistency across financial reports and provides a common language between businesses, investors, shareholders, and financial institutions.

This article delves into the details of the Modified Cash Basis Accounting method, its applicability, and its comparison with other accounting methods.

What is the modified cash basis of accounting?

Calculating invoice and recording income/expenses

Image courtesy of Canva/Getty Images

The modified cash basis method is a hybrid accounting methodology that borrows features from both the cash basis and accrual basis of accounting. It involves recording transactions based on the cash basis with additional accrual adjustments. This method provides more insight into your financials than the cash basis method, without the need to maintain a set of accrual books.

The basics: Cash vs. accrual accounting method

Before we proceed with understanding the modified cash method, let’s refresh our understanding of the two most commonly used accounting methods.

Cash basis accounting

Under this method, revenue is recognized only when cash is received, and expenses are recorded only when paid. It is simple but provides limited financial insight.

For example, if a freelance graphic designer completes a project for a client and receives payment immediately, the revenue from that project is recognized at the time of payment. Similarly, expenses are recorded when payments are made, regardless of when the goods or services were received.

Accrual basis accounting

In contrast, accrual accounting recognizes income when earned and expenses when incurred, regardless of when the cash is exchanged. While it provides a more accurate picture of a company's financial health, it is more complex and time-consuming.

For example, if a software company completes a project for a client in January but doesn’t receive payment until February, the revenue from that project is still recognized in January when the work was completed.

The Modified Cash Basis Accounting method combines both cash and accrual methods to provide a more comprehensive approach to accounting.

Modified cash basis accounting

The application of the modified cash basis method can vary depending on the specific financial requirements of a business. A company may record recurring monthly expenses such as rent and utilities on a cash basis, while long-term assets will be recorded using the accrual method.

For example, let’s consider a small construction company. It recognizes revenue when it receives payments from clients for completed projects (cash basis), but it may choose to recognize expenses such as material purchases and subcontractor fees when it incurs them, regardless of when it pays for them (accrual basis).

This approach allows the construction company to better match its revenues with the related expenses, providing a more accurate representation of its profitability for each project. It also helps the company manage its cash flow more effectively by ensuring that expenses are accounted for as they are incurred rather than waiting until payment is made.

Benefits of using the modified cash basis method

There are several good reasons for using this combination method.

  • It provides an additional level of financial insight that you cannot get from cash basis alone.

  • It is less time-consuming than a full accrual accounting system.

  • It reflects the cash flow of the business better than the cash basis alone when you have inventory.

  • The income statement and balance sheet will accurately reflect the financial health of your company.

Who should opt for a modified cash basis of accounting?

While any business can use this method, some businesses are legally required to use the accrual basis. Corporations and partnerships with average annual gross receipts of more than $25 million are two examples. A third type of business that should use the accrual method is one with a large number of accounts receivable and accounts payable to process over different accounting periods.

Furthermore, a business required to present audited financial statements for tax reporting purposes would not use this modified method, but any privately owned small business that wants more relevant financial information can do so.

Impact on financial statements

Financial statement displayed with a pen on top, illustrating the modified cash basis of accounting

Image courtesy of Canva/Getty Images

Inventory adjustments

The modified cash basis method can significantly impact your financial statements. One of the common uses is inventory adjustments. For instance, a small e-commerce business might want to include monthly inventory and cost of goods sold on their financial statements. Using the modified cash basis method, they can make accrual adjustments to record such data, providing useful information for business owners and potential investors or lenders.

Net income

Net income is affected by whether it is recognized immediately or when the customer pays the invoice. This can significantly affect the income reported for income tax purposes.


With the right tools and knowledge, you can leverage the power of modified cash-based accounting to gain better control over your business finances and make informed decisions.

However, it's essential to evaluate your business needs and legal requirements before choosing this method.

Don’t know what to do?

A full-service accounting firm like Hall Accounting Company can provide you, the small business owner, with much-needed guidance on the accounting method you should use, provide bookkeeping services, and help you with tax planning.

Get the peace of mind that an experienced accounting partner can offer you. We have plans to suit the needs of small business owners. Schedule a call today and say goodbye to accounting and tax compliance worries. We’ll do the numbers, while you do what you love.

Want to know the cost upfront?

Get a quote online.