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What Does The Term True Up Mean In Accounting?

July 3, 2023
Bill Kimball

These processes occur through an adjustment known as a true-up adjustment. The corresponding journal entry used to record them is called a true-up entry. The term ‘true up’ means to align, make level or balance something.

Once companies can determine them, they must establish the revenues they help contribute. Accounting needs to be presented in a format that benefits users of financial statements. Concepts like matching, budgeting, and accrual need to be part of company financial reporting.

It relates to errors, although it excludes any journal entries. With a true-up entry, companies can record those missed amounts. Sometimes, companies may also omit some aspects of a transaction. Timing differences are the final aspect that true-up adjustments cover.

In essence, true up refer to accounting adjustments passed to reconcile or match the accounts. Therefore, the need for these adjustments arises when there is a mismatch in accounting records. In such cases, true up accounting is required to record any missing information with journal entries. True up entries are also useful for balance mismatches, inaccurate values, under or overstatement of figures. The above true-up adjustment is an example of a timing difference.

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The definition of true up is to level, align, and balance something. When two or more accounts are matched or reconciled, the true up process is in action. The timing difference is also more relatable to budgeting, but it is not the budgeting variance. The best example of the timing difference can be given as an electricity bill is received once the electricity has been consumed.

True-up adjustments allow companies to present accurate information on the financial statements. The company has estimated that budgeted overhead expense amounts to $5,000 for the year ended 2020. Later on, it was figured out that the actual overhead expense for the period was $5,500. So, there is a difference of $500 between actual and estimated. A journal entry has to be made to settle the difference between the two figures.

Accounting has evolved to be complex for providing comprehensive insights to the user of financial statements. So, the process to enhance user experience requires the business accountant to present financial information that is true and reliable in all aspects. When the accounting department records, sorts, or posts balances from one account to the other, errors or omissions are likely to occur. You might not have the actual utility bill for the last month of the year and might estimate a figure based on the consumption in the past few months. A true up payment is then used to make adjustments for the difference.

accounting true up

Here are some examples of the true-up entries for different scenarios present in an entity. Let’s suppose employees are paid on an accrual basis, which means that January’s salary will be paid in February.

True Up in accounting: What is It?

In most cases, companies record expenses in the same period as they occur. The value for these expenses comes from the underlying transactions. On top of that, some expenses may not occur in the same period. Nonetheless, they may relate to that period even before they occur. Recording these transactions falls under a true-up adjustment in accounting.

accounting true up

Companies must record true-up adjustments for several reasons. They include entries made in the accounting system to adjust for year-end transactions or events. Usually, these adjustments occur once a company closes its accounts.

Said differently, we record the omitted, incorrect, or accounting adjustments through true-up journal entries. Usually, these include new information that can provide details on a transaction. Based on that information, companies can update or adjust the previous estimates. These adjustments are crucial in correcting a mismatch between two transactions. Some of the reasons why companies need true-up adjustments include the following.

Some of the situations that need adjustments and truing up are described below. The term true-up means the concept of leveling, balancing, or aligning something. Accountants usually use historical data to estimate figures in their budgets. Sometimes, however, these figures may not match with actual numbers. In overheads, for example, under absorption or over absorption of figures are rectified using adjustment entries in accounting. Another example of the timing difference can be illustrated in the payment of electricity bills as discussed above.

Timing Difference

Deferred tax arises due to temporary differences between accounting and tax base. So, an accountant needs to closely study the impact of movement on temporary differences before closing the business’s financial statement. Forecasting and budgeting are two tools for the allocation of future resources. Budgets are based on estimates for expenses, revenues, and resources. Financial statements should always provide the true value of financial and operational information.

  • Forecasting and budgeting are two tools for the allocation of future resources.
  • Usually, accountants make true-up entries when closing the accounts.
  • There was a total difference of 3,000$ that required to be adjusted for the year’s profit and loss statement.
  • The timing difference is also more relatable to budgeting, but it is not the budgeting variance.
  • The term true-up means the concept of leveling, balancing, or aligning something.

When companies make estimations, they use them to update the accounts temporarily. Once the actual figures are available, they must adjust the financial statements to reflect them. However, true-up adjustments can help companies rectify those estimates. With these adjustments, companies can record the actual accounts for each transaction. True-up adjustments are entries used by companies to balance or match various balances. Usually, the need occurs due to budgeting, errors and omissions, quantification, and timing differences.

Budgeting involves calculating the future revenues and expenses of a company. Through these tools, they can estimate their recurring expenses. In most cases, companies prepare them before a financial year begins. Sometimes, companies must use those estimates to record a transaction.

This difference of amounts shows that the overhead expense was understated by $500. To report exact figures in the financial statements, a true-up entry has to be made to meet the requirements of fair financial reporting. This $500 is required to be adjusted in the profit and loss statement for the year 2020. True up is important for accounting since the accuracy and credibility of accounting balances are enhanced.

There was a total difference of 3,000$ that required to be adjusted for the year’s profit and loss statement. According to the International Financial Reporting Standards, an entity can estimate or provide the expected expenses or revenues. One is cash-based accounting, whereas the other one is accrual-based accounting. Accounting has evolved a lot over time, and it has become a lot more than credit, debit, journal, ledger, and financial reporting. True-up means to match, reconcile, tie-out two or more balances with the help of an adjustment.


Forecasting and budgeting, both techniques are used to determine the allocation of resources for the future period. Mostly, the companies post these estimates to the related expense account. Now when the bill was received, it was either more than the estimate or less than the estimate. Now, when closing financial statements, the bill has not yet been charged, but according to previous consumption patterns, the entity can estimate. But to give a better idea of which scenarios require adjustment and truing up, we have listed the events when a need to true up financial records arises.

On the other hand, the accrual basis accounting system works on certain accounting principles. The adjustments are usually made after the end of a financial period once the accounts have been closed. The difference between actual and estimated amounts is adjusted by employing the process of truing up your financial data. For example, a company, ABC Co., records its utility expenses based on estimations. The company uses its previous data to forecast those expenses.

This process is in line with the requirements of accounting principles and standards. However, the company receives utility bills one month after the month to which it relates. At the end of each year, Friend Co. must, therefore, estimate the electricity expense for the last month.

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The general answer to this question is that truing up or adjustments are necessary at the closing of every financial period. In other words, expenses related to certain revenues should be recorded in the same period when revenue was generated. A true-up is an excellent way to ensure that you have made the correct entries and recorded the right information.

Once it estimates the amount, it records it in the financial statements. Based on the historical usage data, ABC Co. believes its utility expense for the next month will be $10,000. Quantification relates to expenses that do not have an accurate amount. Usually, unexpected events can impact the quantification of those amounts. Companies can rectify that by adjusting for the actual values once those events are over.

Benefits of recording True up Journal entry

Finding accurate figures during unexpected events is difficult in company financial reporting. The journal entries are made to record the omitted entries or some aspects of a transaction. The errors of balance, incorrect value, overstating, or understating are also adjusted accordingly by the mean of true-up entries.