The accounting behind Xero
This page outlines some of the accounting used in Xero. It summarizes the way Xero deals with typical accounts and transactions.
- Xero records and stores all your accounting transactions
- Xero uses the accrual method of accounting
- Xero uses the basic accounting equation approach
- You can change the chart of accounts to suit your business
- Xero offers a wide range of financial reports
- Bank statement lines feed automatically into Xero
- Xero uses a single account for recording all sales tax
- Xero helps you calculate the sales tax you owe your tax authority
- Xero automatically calculates retained earnings
- Xero allows you to post manual journals
- Xero calculates your foreign currency gains and losses
- Xero allows you to allocate credit notes, prepayments and overpayments directly against your invoices
Xero automatically creates all the behind-the-scenes journals for each of your accounting transactions. Xero uses the rules of double-entry bookkeeping. This means that for every transaction, Xero posts a debit and credit journal-entry to the general ledger.
The accrual method records income and expenses at the time transactions occur, rather than when payment is made or received. Most reports in Xero are accrual-based. Xero also provides cash-basis reporting.
Check the Help page for the report you're using to see whether it uses the accrual method, cash method, or both. For some reports, Xero uses the cash method if your organization uses the Cash basis for sales tax.
Xero records transactions based on the accounting equation:
Assets = Liabilities + Equity
This equation always balances. It is the foundation of double-entry bookkeeping. In essence, it means that a business uses either its liabilities or shareholders' equity to fund its assets.
The chart of accounts is a list of accounts used to define all your accounting transactions. It organizes your transactions into specific accounts so you can gain a better understanding of your business. Xero's entire default chart of accounts fits into the following main account types:
- Current Asset
- Fixed Asset
- Non-current Asset
- Current Liability
- Non-current Liability
- Direct Costs
- Other Income
If your business has separate departments or cost centers, then Xero enables you to report on these separately. You can do this by adding tracking categories.
In Xero, you can generate financial reports in real time. Xero's reports range from basic accounting reports to advanced management reports. Xero's reports include:
- Performance reports (such as Income Statement, Budget Variance)
- Position reports (such as Balance Sheet, Aged Payables, Aged Receivables)
- Cash reports (such as Bank Summary)
- Accounting reports (such as Trial Balance and General Ledger)
Bank reconciliation is a process that matches your bank statement lines, as supplied by the bank, to your accounting transactions in the general ledger. Xero makes bank reconciliation easy by frequently importing bank statement lines from your bank directly into your Xero account. This means you can have a daily view of your cashflow without having to log into your online banking or wait for your paper bank statements.
Xero speeds up bank reconciliation by matching most of your imported bank statement lines to your accounting transactions. Xero also remembers how you've treated other bank statement lines and provides suggested general ledger transactions.
Xero uses only one sales tax account. This one account categorizes your sales tax into sales tax on income, sales tax on expenses and sales tax payments. This account shows your overall sales tax position.
Xero attaches sales tax rates to each account in your chart of accounts. This means that whenever you post a transaction in Xero, the sales tax rate and amount automatically attaches to the transaction. Xero provides a default set of sales tax rates, though you can change any of the sales tax default settings if they don't suit your business.
Xero totals all your accounting transactions for your sales tax period and uses these totals to calculate your sales tax obligation. You can then check your sales tax by running Xero's Sales Tax Audit.
Retained earnings is the portion of income retained by your business. Xero automatically calculates your retained earnings in real time so no year-end journal or rollover is required.
Use manual journals to record transactions which aren't part of your day-to-day transactions.
If your organization has multi-currency, then Xero's multi-currency reports will calculate and show your business's foreign currency exposure. Xero bases these calculations on exchange rates from XE.com which are updated every hour. Xero tracks all your foreign currency gains and losses through Xero's 3 foreign currency-specific accounts. Choose a pricing plan with multi-currency if you want this feature.
Xero allows you to allocate credit notes, prepayments and overpayments directly against your invoices
Xero makes entering credit notes, prepayments and overpayments easy by automatically prompting you to allocate them against existing customer and supplier invoices.