Post-dating documents in accounting profession

Post-dating a document and accounting professional duties

Organizations rely on the work of accountants and such inform on accountant duty to their employers or clients. In this manner, accountant responsibility is explained as the ethical responsibility of accountants to individuals depending on their work. Accordingly, accountants must, therefore, discharge their duties while following applicable laws, standards, and principles. Consequently, the discussion of the paper focuses on how post-dating a document conflicts with the responsibilities of an accounting professional. The question formulated to guide the paper is: “When does a little white lie; such as post-dating a document, conflict with the duties of an accounting professional?” Arguably, a little white lie such as post-dating a document conflicts with the duties of an accounting professional when analyzed through the ethical principles inclusive of virtue ethics, justice theory, rights theory, utilitarian theory, and the Kantian theory of ethics.
Accounting professionals assume a unique position in institutions based on their duties, responsibilities, and roles in such institutions. Accounting professionals serving in a given organization helps in business analysis and strategy development. In such capacities, accounting professionals are useful in the process of preparing business plans, conducting market research, business valuation, as well as financial management and risk management. Additionally, accounting professionals are charged with the responsibilities of meeting legal requirements that are inclusive of preparing financial statements and advising the management of their organizations on compliance issues.

Back-dating documents

Accordingly, virtue ethics explains how back-dating documents conflict with the duties of accounting professionals. In this context, there is a need to evaluate both the action and the reason for back-dating. In this manner, if the accountant engagement in back-dating a document is motivated by self-interest, then the work is unethical since the other stakeholders relying on the report are deceived and are not considered in such choices during documentation. Equally, the justice theory also explains how back-dating a document contradicts the standards of engagement for accounting professionals. The justice theory provides for equal treatment of the employees of an organization and even the other stakeholders to the institution. Back-dating documents is a form of data falsification and choosing to file and submit such reports is unjust to executives, other employees, and other stakeholders that rely on such documents for decision making at different levels of the management or operations.

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The usefulness of the Rights theory

Similarly, the rights theory is useful in explaining how engaging in back-dating of documents conflicts with the duties of accounting professionals. The rights theory centers on entitlement, and in this case, the creditors and the investors are entitled to transparent, reliable, and accurate financial statements. Accounting professionals are responsible in such areas and making decisions to back-date documents is unethical form a professional perspective since such actions ignore or do not consider the rights of the named stakeholders. Again, there is the utilitarian perspective where activities are considered ethical by weighing their benefits both to the management and the organization and even the shareholders against the long-term negative impacts of falsified or misleading financial information. The fraud triangle has a rationalization part, and accounting professionals rationalizing the unethical action of back-dating are victims of the rationalization section. Furthermore, the Kantian theory requires that an individual, an accounting professional, to act as if their actions were to become a universal law. Therefore, from the perspective of Kantian theory, when an accountant’s work of back-dating is to deceive or manipulate the stakeholders, then it is a lie and cannot be justified.


In conclusion, a little white lie, such as back-dating a document conflicts with the duties of accounting professionals. Accounting professionals are of significance to an organization based on their roles, obligations, and responsibilities in the areas of business analysis and strategy development as well as preparing financial statements and advising the management on matters of compliance. Accounting professionals that back-date documents are in contradiction of their duties that are governed by the ethical principles of engagement such as virtue ethics, justice theory, rights theory, utilitarian theory, and the Kantian theory of ethics.

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