What is the difference between overstated and understated?

It can also be triggered by an incorrect extension of inventory unit counts to derive the final inventory valuation. Consequently, a business should use cycle counting to continually verify whether its inventory records match its physical inventory. It can also review inventory valuations on a trend line to see if there are any unusual spikes or dips in the valuation amounts over time, which may be worthy of further investigation. A new business buys $1 million of merchandise during a year, and records ending inventory of $100,000, which results in a cost of goods sold of $900,000. However, the ending inventory was undercounted by $30,000, so the ending inventory balance should have been $130,000, which means that the cost of goods sold should have been $870,000.

A company should always ensure that their books are up-to-date with accurate records and verified by external auditors on a periodic basis. Correcting an understated or overstated account is not too difficult. New calculations are necessary to determine the correct amount to enter into accounts.

Translations of understated

This can lead to investors making bad decisions based on false information, resulting in losses for them or the company itself. Also, inaccuracies can trigger investigations by regulatory bodies or worse yet – legal proceedings against the company for fraud or other criminal activity. The consequences of accounting fraud were severe in the Enron case.

Accountants use these terms primarily when reviewing financial statements. The terms also apply to other situations, however, often found in a company’s general ledger or subsidiary journals. Accounting errors can mislead financial statements users when making decisions.

As a result of the $20,000 understatement, the company’s income statement will report too little of SG&A expenses, and too much net income. The company’s balance sheet will report too little in accounts payable and too much in owner’s (or stockholders’) equity. Another form of accounting fraud occurs when a company overstates its assets or understates its liabilities. For example, a company might overstate its current assets and understate its current liabilities. One example of overstated accounting could be if a company reports having more assets than it actually does. Conversely, one example of an understatement could be if a company reports having fewer liabilities than it actually has.

If the company overstates its current assets and understates its current liabilities, it is misrepresenting its liquidity. The company could state that it has $5 million in current assets and $500,000 in current liabilities. Then, potential investors will believe that the company has enough liquid assets to cover all of its liabilities.


The company’s net income is overstated, and its costs are understated on the income statement. This type of accounting fraud creates a false impression of how much net income a company is receiving. Accounting fraud is the intentional manipulation of financial statements to create a false appearance of corporate financial health. Furthermore, it involves an employee, accountant, or the organization itself misleading investors and shareholders. A company can falsify its financial statements by overstating its revenue, not recording expenses, and misstating assets and liabilities. If you overstated ending inventory, then cost of goods is understated, and gross profit and net income are overstated.

Free Financial Statements Cheat Sheet

Now suppose the CEO of a publicly-traded company knowingly makes false statements about the firm’s prospects. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) may well charge that CEO with fraud. However, it is not accounting fraud because no financial records were falsified. Overstated revenue represents money received before the actual service or product has been delivered.

Is that overstatement is an exaggeration; a statement in excess of what is reasonable while understatement is a disclosure or statement that is less than complete. Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years. In a double-entry bookkeeping or accounting system, another general ledger account will also be misstated by the same amount. No they will be overstated as depreciation will not have been
taken into account. TrendingAccounting is a top small business blog that shares information about accounting, bookkeeping, tax, finance, and auditing. In addition to years of corporate accounting experience, he teaches online accounting courses for two universities.

Understanding understated and overstated

Criminal charges were brought against many of the company’s top executives, and some of them were sent to prison. The scandal also eventually destroyed accounting giant Arthur Andersen LLP, which handled Enron’s books. In 2023, the amount of the beginning inventory is the amount reported as the ending inventory of ($15,000 instead of $25,000). If the net purchases during 2023 are $270,000, the cost of goods available will be $285,000 (instead of $295,000). After subtracting the 2023 ending inventory of $30,000, the cost of goods sold will be $255,000 (instead of $265,000).

This indicates the reported balance — $13,000, for example — should actually be $15,000. Two accounts will have this error as double-entry accounting requires two accounts to be in every entry an accountant posts into the general ledger. A company can commit accounting fraud if it overstates its revenue. Suppose company ABC is actually operating at a loss and not generating enough revenue. To cover up this situation, the firm might claim to be producing more income on financial statements than it does in reality. If the company overstates its revenues, it would drive up the firm’s share price and create a false image of financial health.


The result is reported profits that are $30,000 lower than is really the case. An understated inventory indicates there is less inventory on hand than the actual stock amount. This can arise from errors in receipting stock, failure to reconcile the movement of raw materials and finished goods from one location to another 10 best quickbooks alternatives in 2021 and unrecorded transactions. ❖If the accounts effected are on the same side of the equation they should have the opposite effect, i., if one is overstated the other one would be understated. ❖Similarly, if the accounts on either side of the equation they will flow in the same dirone is understated so will the other.

When an accountant finds an understated or overstated balance, he needs to conduct research to discover the error. Double-posted entries, transposed numbers or incorrect amounts entered into the general ledger are often the most common errors. Two accounts will have the error, leading the accountant to discover both sides of the entry. Understated amounts indicate a reported amount is not correct and the reported amount is less than the true amount. For example, an accountant may release a statement saying a company’s inventory account has an understated balance.

The Enron scandal is one of the most famous examples of accounting fraud in history. Enron used off-balance-sheet entities to hide the company’s debts from investors and creditors. Although using such entities was not illegal in itself, Enron’s failure to disclose the necessary details of its dealings constituted accounting fraud. As the true extent of Enron’s debts became known to the public, its share price collapsed.

Also assume that the correct/actual/true amount of accounts payable is $230,000. In this situation, an accountant will say that the reported amount of accounts payable is understated by $20,000. In a double-entry accounting system, the amount in another account will also be understated by $20,000. Another type of accounting fraud takes place when a company does not record its expenses.

As income statements and balance sheets serve different purposes, overstated revenue amounts are tracked in different ways. An understatement of assets will lower profits, making the business seem weaker than it is. On a cash-flow statement, an understatement of liabilities would increase cash flow, and an understatement of assets would decrease cash flow. Understated and overstated are two terms that describe the inaccuracy of accounting figures.