6 Qualitative Characteristics of Accounting

Characteristics of Accounting.Accounting, as a science, has been advancing in recent years, especially public accounting, due to the convergence with international standards.In this context, aspects that, in the past, were not analyzed – even by the budgetary approach that Public Accounting presented at the time, in the face of Law 4.320 / 64 – today, are essential for Public Accounting, for example, equity as the object of accounting and competence as an accounting regime adopted in the Public Sector.

Thus, matters such as depreciation, amortization, depletion, provisions, adjustments for losses are now required.

Every day, the control and audit bodies observe the relevance of the financial statements as an instrument of transparency and information for society.

This new vision starts to play a fundamental role in the way each accounting professional must position himself, especially in relation to the relevance and materiality of the information.

This is interesting for accounting, as it allows it to be really seen as an essential science to provide useful information to users for the purpose of accountability and  accountability  and decision making. 

This advance permanently requires the accounting professional to improve the quality of the information in the financial statements and explanatory notes, so that these documents can present transparent, clear and reliable data .

Because of this, it is important that accountants rely on the attribute of the qualitative characteristics of accounting information to make the information really useful.

In this post, based on the Accounting Manual Applied to the Public Sector, 8th Edition, we bring you the 6 qualitative characteristics of accounting information as well as its details:

What are the 6 qualitative characteristics of accounting information?

Financial and non-financial information is relevant if it is capable of significantly influencing the fulfillment of the objectives of preparing and disclosing accounting information.

Financial and non-financial information are able to exert this influence when they have confirmatory, predictive value or both .

The information may be able to influence and thus be relevant, even if some users decide not to consider it or are already aware of it.

Trusted Representation

To be useful as accounting information, the information must correspond to a reliable representation of the economic and other phenomena that it is intended to represent.

Reliable representation is achieved when the representation of the phenomenon is Complete, Neutral and Free from material error .

Information that faithfully represents an economic phenomenon or another phenomenon portrays the substance of the transaction, which may not necessarily correspond to its legal form.


Understandability is the quality of information that allows users to understand its meaning.

The financial statements must present the information in a way that corresponds to the users’ needs and knowledge base, as well as the nature of the information presented.

Understanding is enhanced when information is classified and presented in a clear  and  succinct manner .


It is the quality of information that enables users to identify similarities and differences between two sets of phenomena.

Comparability is not a quality of an individual item of information, but rather the quality of the relationship between two or more items of information.

Information on the entity’s equity situation, performance, cash flows, compliance with approved budgets or other relevant legislation, or with other regulations related to fundraising and use of resources, performance of service provision and your future plans, is necessary for the purposes of accountability and accountability and decision making.


It means having information available to users before it loses its ability to be useful for the purpose of the preparation and disclosure of accounting information.

Having information available can quickly enhance its usefulness as an input for evaluation of accountability and accountability processes (accountability) and its ability to inform and influence decision-making processes.

Timelessness can make information less useful.


It is the quality of the information that helps to assure users that the information contained in the financial statements faithfully represents the economic or other phenomena that it proposes to represent.

This characteristic implies that two enlightened and independent observers can reach a general consensus, but not necessarily complete agreement, in which the information represents economic and other phenomena, whose intention is to represent without material error or bias; or appropriate recognition, measurement or representation method was applied without material error or bias.

It should be noted that each of the qualitative characteristics is integrated and works in conjunction with the others. However, in practice, it may not be possible to achieve all qualitative characteristics, in which case a balance or compensation between some of them may be necessary.

On the other hand, there are inherent restrictions on information, such as:

  1. a)      materiality– Information is material if its omission or distortion could influence the fulfillment of the duty of accountability and accountability;
  2. b)      cost-benefit– Assess whether the benefits of disclosing the information are likely to justify the costs incurred in providing and using it. In making this assessment, it is necessary to consider whether one or more qualitative characteristics can be sacrificed to some extent to reduce the cost;
  3. c)      balance between qualitative characteristics– Qualitativecharacteristics work together to contribute to the usefulness of information. In some cases, a balance or trade-off between qualitative characteristics may be necessary to achieve the objectives of accounting information.


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