Accountants prepare trial balance to check the correctness of accounts. If total of debit balances does not agree with the total of credit balances, it is a clear-cut indication that certain errors have been committed while recording the transactions in the books of original entry or subsidiary books. It is our utmost duty to locate these errors and rectify them, only then we should proceed for preparing final accounts. We also know that all types of errors are not revealed by trial balance as some of the errors do not effect the total of trial balance. So these cannot be located with the help of trial balance. An accountant should invest his energy to locate both types of errors and rectify them before preparing trading, profit and loss account and balance sheet. Because if these are prepared before rectification these will not give us the correct result and profit and loss disclosed by them, shall not be the actual profit or loss.
All errors of accounting procedure can be classified as follows:
1. Errors of Principle
When a transaction is recorded against the fundamental principles of accounting, it is an error of principle. For example, if revenue expenditure is treated as capital expenditure or vice versa.
2. Clerical Errors
These errors can again be sub-divided as follows:
(i) Errors of omission
When a transaction is either wholly or partially not recorded in the books, it is an error of omission. It may be with regard to omission to enter a transaction in the books of original entry or with regard to omission to post a transaction from the books of original entry to the account concerned in the ledger.
(ii) Errors of commission
When an entry is incorrectly recorded either wholly or partially-incorrect posting, calculation, casting or balancing. Some of the errors of commission effect the trial balance whereas others do not. Errors effecting the trial balance can be revealed by preparing a trial balance.
(iii) Compensating errors
Sometimes an error is counter-balanced by another error in such a way that it is not disclosed by the trial balance. Such errors are called compensating errors.
From the point of view of rectification of the errors, these can be divided into two groups :
(a) Errors affecting one account only, and
(b) Errors affecting two or more accounts.
Errors affecting one account
Errors which affect can be :
(a) Casting errors;
(b) error of posting;
(c) carry forward;
(d) balancing; and
(e) omission from trial balance.
Such errors should, first of all, be located and rectified. These are rectified either with the help of journal entry or by giving an explanatory note in the account concerned.
Stages of correction of accounting errors
All types of errors in accounts can be rectified at two stages:
(i) before the preparation of the final accounts; and
(ii) after the preparation of final accounts.
Errors rectified within the accounting period
The proper method of correction of an error is to pass journal entry in such a way that it corrects the mistake that has been committed and also gives effect to the entry that should have been passed. But while errors are being rectified before the preparation of final accounts, in certain cases the correction can't be done with the help of journal entry because the errors have been such. Normally, the procedure of rectification, if being done, before the preparation of final accounts is as follows:
(a) Correction of errors affecting one side of one account Such errors do not let the trial balance agree as they effect only one side of one account so these can't be corrected with the help of journal entry, if correction is required before the preparation of final accounts.