Business English Vocabulary: Accounting

Lots of people find a career in finance or accountancy, regardless of what they study. If this is something you are interested in, let’s kick things off with some basic English accounting vocabulary!

Let’s start with an important one that might help you understand the rest of this post better! Accounting itself is identifying, measuring and sharing economic information. Accounting lets people and businesses know how much money they have and where it might be going.

Hand-picked related content: THE KAPLAN METHOD OF TEACHING ENGLISH

Accounting vocabulary
It's helps to be good at numbers in the accounting field.



An audit is an investigation to see if a set of financial statements are accurate. Audits are normally carried out on companies in their offices and can be carried out by a whole team of accountants.

Corporate finance

When businesses wants to buy another businesses, they will use corporate finance to work out how healthy that other business is in terms of their accounts.

Debtors ledger

This is something used to keep a record of customers who owe money to a business.

Fiscal year

Everyone knows what a year is, maybe even an academic or school year, maybe even a tax year, but a fiscal year can be completely different. This is a period of 12 months chosen by a business as its accounting period. It does not have to be January to December!

fiscal year - accounting vocabulary
It's good to know when your fiscal year starts and ends.


Forensic accounting

This is purely accounting used for investigating criminal, civil and insurance matters for the courts. (Incidentally, forensic science really means science for court purposes in exactly the same way!)

Not for profit

An organisation can be classed as "not for profit". These organisations or businesses can include sports clubs, hobby groups or societies or groups that do charitable work. It basically means that none of the income can benefit the owners or shareholders of the company. Being a not for profit organisation changes the way the law applies to you, in particular for when it comes to paying taxes.

Seed investment

Start-up companies might look for this. It is a first investment, normally given by a bank, venture capitalist or “angel investor”.


You will likely be familiar with this term already. Tax is a set of money that you have to pay to the government, often related to income. As an accountant, you might be involved with making sure a company is paying its taxes properly, or finding out exactly how much you should be paying. The rules of how much tax you should pay are notoriously flexible!

tax - accounting vocabulary
You definitely want to be sure you are paying the right amount of tax!


This is only scraping the surface of finance and accountancy vocabulary! If you are getting ready for a career in finance, you might want to have a look at our Cambridge exam preparation courses, or one of our other English exam preparation courses.

If your English is already at a high enough standard, you might also want to pay a visit to our friends at Kaplan Financial!

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