A one-time charge is just what it sounds like - a charge off for an unusual event that that is not expected to occur again. However, it has become an accounting trick to cover up expenditures that a person or group wishes to conceal; the expenditures are buried under the guise of special expenses due to "extraordinary events."
This technique is used in both industry and government. An example of a government one-time charge is given by Paul Krugman in an article titled "Bush's Aggressive Accounting" in The Great Unraveling: losing our way in the new century:
- The events of Sept. 11 shocked and horrified the nation; they also presented the Bush administration a golden opportunity to bury its previous misdeeds. Has more than $4 trillion of projected surplus suddenly evaporated into thin air? Pay no attention to the tax cut: it's all because of the war on terrorism.
- In short, the administration's strategy is to prevent criticism of what amounts to a fiscal debacle by wrapping its budget in the flag.
- …emotionally, morally [the war on terrorism] is a big deal; but fiscally it's very nearly a rounding error.
Articles and resources
Related SourceWatch articles
- Paul Krugman, "Bush's Aggressive Accounting", New York Times, February 5, 2002. (The whole article has been reproduced on various blogs).
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