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Mastering Cutoff Procedures in Review Engagements: Ensuring Accurate Financial Period Reporting

In the realm of financial reporting, ensuring transactions are recorded in the correct accounting period through cutoff procedures is not merely a matter of regulatory compliance but a cornerstone of financial integrity and accuracy. Accurate cutoff is critical for several reasons. It directly impacts the calculation of bonuses, which often depend on the income figures, the valuation of the company for sale or investment purposes, and adherence to bank covenants that may be tied to financial performance metrics. Missteps in cutoff procedures can lead to misstated financial statements, undermining stakeholder confidence, and potentially leading to financial or legal repercussions. This blog guides you into the importance of accurate cutoff across various financial categories—Cash, Revenues and Receivables, Expenses and Payables, and Prepaids—underscoring the significance of cutoff testing in ensuring the reliability of financial reports.

Cash Transactions: Ensuring Precision in Liquidity Reporting

For cash transactions, cutoff procedures are paramount in reflecting a true picture of a company’s liquidity at period end. The meticulous recording of cheques on the date they are issued ensures that expenditures are accounted for in the correct period, preventing discrepancies in financial reporting that could affect cash flow analysis and subsequent financial planning. Similarly, recording deposits on the receipt date rather than when they clear provides an accurate account of incoming funds, essential for assessing the company’s financial health. Implementing controls like scanning or copying deposits before banking ensures that each transaction is captured accurately, allowing for precise bank reconciliations. These reconciliations are critical in identifying outstanding cheques and deposits, ensuring that the cash balance presented in the financial statements accurately represents the company’s liquidity position at the period end.

Revenues and Receivables: Aligning Income Recognition with Company Policy

In the context of revenues and receivables, a clear and consistently applied revenue recognition policy is crucial. This policy determines the exact point at which sales are considered earned, affecting how income is reported and impacting the company’s financial performance indicators. Whether revenue is recognized at the point of shipping or delivery, it’s imperative that all staff adhere to this policy to ensure revenues and receivables are recorded in the correct period. Effective controls, such as sales cut-off procedures, must be rigorously applied to guarantee that the last transactions of the period are accurately captured. Keeping the Accounts Receivable ledger open for a brief period post-year-end ensures that late-arriving sales data is included, further refining the accuracy of revenue reporting. Conversely, deposits received for services not yet rendered by year-end should be recorded as unearned revenue, aligning with the principle that revenue should only be recognized when it is earned, thus preserving the integrity of reported income.

Expenses and Payables: The Matching Principle in Practice

Adherence to the matching principle is fundamental in the treatment of expenses and payables. This accounting principle dictates that expenses incurred in generating revenue should be recorded in the same period as the revenue itself. Such synchronization ensures the financial statements accurately reflect the company’s operational efficiency and profitability. For example, if revenue is recognized upon delivery, associated delivery costs must also be recorded in that period to accurately match expenses with the generated income. Post-year-end, keeping the books open allows for the capture of all pertinent expenses, ensuring they are allocated to the correct reporting period. Vigilant examination of supplier invoices in the subsequent weeks is necessary to identify and record late-arriving charges, thereby upholding the accuracy of expense reporting and ensuring compliance with the matching principle.

Prepaids: Managing Prepayment Expenses with Foresight

Prepaids involve payments for expenses where a portion or all of the service or benefit extends into future accounting periods. The careful allocation of these prepayments as assets on the balance sheet until the service is rendered or the benefit received is crucial. This approach ensures expenses are recognized in the period they pertain to, adhering to the accrual basis of accounting. By distinguishing between immediate expenses and prepaids, companies can more accurately depict their financial position, ensuring that prepaid expenses do not artificially inflate the expense account in the period the payment was made. This meticulous treatment of prepaids enhances the precision of financial reporting, contributing to a more accurate representation of the company’s financial health and operational performance.


Cutoff procedures play an indispensable role in the accurate and reliable reporting of a company’s financial activities. By ensuring transactions are recorded in the appropriate accounting period, companies can maintain the integrity of their financial statements, supporting key financial decisions and stakeholder confidence. Through diligent application of cutoff procedures across cash, revenues and receivables, expenses and payables, and prepaids, businesses safeguard their financial reporting process, laying a robust foundation for financial analysis, planning, and strategic decision-making.


This information is for discussion purposes only and should not be considered professional advice. There is no guarantee or warrant of information on this site and it should be noted that rules and laws change regularly. You should consult a professional before considering implementing or taking any action based on information on this site. Call our team for a consultation before taking any action. ©2024 Shajani CPA.

Shajani CPA is a CPA Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer firm and provides Accountant, Bookkeeping, Tax Advice and Tax Planning service.

Nizam Shajani, Partner, LLM, CPA, CA, TEP, MBA

I enjoy formulating plans that help my clients meet their objectives. It's this sense of pride in service that facilitates client success which forms the culture of Shajani CPA.

Shajani Professional Accountants has offices in Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta. We’re here to support you in all of your personal and business tax and other accounting needs.