Tracing vs Vouching

During audits, auditors can use various techniques or methods to obtain audit evidence. These methods come into two categories, including the test of controls and substantive procedures. Substantive procedures have two types, consisting of analytical procedures and the test of details. Within this process, auditors can use several techniques. Two of these techniques include tracing and vouching.

Both tracing and vouching involve following a trail that includes supporting documents. However, the approach that both techniques use is different. Overall, both tracing and vouching differ fundamentally. Before discussing the differences, it is crucial to look at both individually.

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What is Tracing in Auditing?

Tracing in auditing is a substantive procedure that auditors use to test for details. This process involves obtaining source documents based on a sample and following them to the accounting records. From there, it examines whether these accounting records become a part of the financial statements. Tracing also involves checking the presentation of these items in those statements.

Tracing allows auditors to check for the controls that companies have over their transactions. Following the trail of source documents to the financial statements helps auditors confirm the completeness and accuracy assertions of the financial statements. Similarly, it provides them assurance regarding the client’s accounting and financial records.

What is Vouching in Auditing?

Vouching refers to the process of examining a client’s financial records and the supporting evidence with them. However, it does not begin from the source documents. Instead, it involves selecting a sample of transactions from the accounting system and checking the supporting evidence. Therefore, it takes an opposite approach to the tracing procedure used in auditing.

Vouching does not involve confirming the completeness assert of the financial statements. Instead, it helps auditors confirm all other assertions. However, it primarily focuses on the occurrence of transactions. Through this process, auditors can ensure that the client has recorded transactions properly in the accounts.

Tracing vs Vouching: What is the difference?

Tracing and vouching are very similar in various regards. Both of them look at how source documents connect to the financial system. Similarly, both are a part of the substantive procedures that auditors perform. However, there are many differences between tracing and vouchers as well. These differences include the following.

Approach

The primary difference between tracing and vouching is the approach auditors take. As mentioned, with tracing, auditors begin with the source documents. From there, they track the transactions to the financial statements. However, vouching takes the opposite approach. When it comes to the vouching process, auditors begin with the financial statements. From there, they track the transaction to the source documents.

Assertions

The primary assertions tested with both approaches also differ. As mentioned, auditors use tracing to confirm the completeness and accuracy assertions of the financial statements. This way, auditors can check if all source documents become a part of the financial statements based on a sample. With vouching, auditors primarily focus on the occurrence assertion. Through that approach, auditors check if the transactions recorded have source documents to support them.

Misstatements

Tracing involves identifying source documents that the client may not have included in the financial statements. Therefore, it helps auditors locate any understatements in the financial statements. On the other hand, vouching takes the opposite approach. Hence, it allows auditors to identify any overstatements in the financial statements.

Conclusion

Tracing in auditing is a technique that auditors use to test the completeness assertion. This technique involves picking source documents and trailing them to the financial statements. In contrast, vouching allows auditors to test the occurrence assertion. Auditors select transactions from the accounts and track them to the source documents with this approach.

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