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Does my accounting program use double-entry bookkeeping?

Single-entry bookkeeping is a simple type of financial recordkeeping used by individuals and businesses that don’t carry unpaid client balances, have only a few employees, and don’t owe people money.[1] Generally businesses that 1) have less than $5 million in annual gross sales or less than $1 million in gross receipts for inventory sales, 2) are not a C Corporation, 3) operate a service business, and 4) collect customer payments at the point of sale, may use a single-entry bookkeeping system.[2] Since most law firms do not collect customer payments at the point of sale, even though the law firm may not be a C Corporation and does not keep inventory on hand, they should still use a double-entry bookkeeping system.

Single-entry bookkeeping systems are all manual, paper systems.[3] All computerized accounting programs are double-entry bookkeeping systems, which means that each financial transaction affects two general ledger accounts.[3]

You may think that your computerized accounting program is a single-entry bookkeeping system because you only enter one general ledger account when recording the transaction. But your computerized system is a double-entry system because it automatically enters the information into the second general ledger account. For example, if you enter a check, the accounting program automatically deducts the transaction amount from your bank account balance. By selecting “check”, “withdrawal”, “deposit”, etc.  the program automatically knows that a cash account is being affected and it automatically makes enters the transaction into the cash account. So, although you don’t see the accounting program assign a second general ledger account to a transaction, rest assured that the transaction absolutely does affect two accounts as required in a double-entry system.


References

1. Why Your Small Business Needs Double-Entry Accounting
2. Accounting Training, Tips, and News
3. Single entry system