The concept of consistency means that accounting methods once adopted must be applied consistently in future. Also same methods and techniques must be used for similar situations.
It implies that a business must refrain from changing its accounting policy unless on reasonable grounds. If for any valid reasons the accounting policy is changed, a business must disclose the nature of change, the reasons for the change and its effects on the items of financial statements.
Consistency concept is important because of the need for comparability, that is, it enables investors and other users of financial statements to easily and correctly compare the financial statements of a company.
- Company A has been using declining balance depreciation method for its IT equipment. According to consistency concept it should continue to use declining balance depreciation method in respect of its IT equipment in the following periods. If the company wants to change it to another depreciation method, say for example the straight line method, it must provide in its financial report, the reason(s) for the change, the nature of the change and the effects of the change on items such as accumulated depreciation.
- Company B is a retailer dealing in shoes. It used first-in-first-out method of inventory valuation in respect of shoes at Branch X and weighted average inventory valuation method in respect of similar shoes at Branch Y. Here, the auditors must investigate whether there are any valid reasons for the different treatment of similar inventory located at different locations. If not, they must direct the company to use any one of the valuation method uniformly for the whole class of inventory.
Written by Irfanullah Jan