Difference between bookkeeping and accounting

Bookkeeping vs accounting (comparison)

Bookkeeping and accounting are both important parts of managing your finances. At first glance, the two can seem quite similar, but there are a few main differences.

Bookkeeping focuses on recording and organising financial data. Accounting is the interpretation and presentation of that data to business owners and investors.

Bookkeeping typically consists of:

  • payroll
  • invoicing
  • receipts and bills
  • recording business transactions

Accounting typically consists of:

  • financial statements and reports
  • budgets
  • tax returns
  • analysing business performance

The tasks that bookkeepers and accountants do vary between businesses. Bookkeepers working for smaller businesses might do some basic accounting duties. There’s often overlap, and the duties may change a lot from one business to another.

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Disclaimer: This glossary is for small business owners. The definitions are written with their requirements in mind. More detailed definitions can be found in accounting textbooks or from an accounting professional. Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice.