The depreciation expense amount changes every year because the factor is multiplied with the previous period’s net book value of the asset, decreasing over time due to accumulated depreciation. If the asset is fully paid for upfront, then it is entered as a debit for the value of the asset and a payment credit. While depreciation expense is a non-cash expense within the income statement that recognizes depreciation for just one accounting period. And although depreciation expenses are only recorded monthly, quarterly, or yearly, assets get consumed by the minute, every time they are used. IAS 16 defines depreciation as the systematic allocation of the depreciable amount of an asset over its useful life. The depreciable amount equals the purchase cost of the asset less the salvage value or other amount like the revaluation amount of the asset.

Usually, companies acquire these assets to help support their operations. Accumulated depreciation is recorded in a contra asset account, meaning it has a credit balance, which reduces the gross amount of top 12 key business principles examples you need to know the fixed asset. The most common method used to calculate depreciation is straight-line depreciation where equal amounts of depreciation are deducted every year until the asset reaches its residual value.

For example, some relate to the production activities performed by a company. In these cases, the assets contribute directly to the core activities of the underlying company. The term depreciation on its own can cover the expense or the contra-asset account. Any amounts in this account decrease the carrying value of assets reported in the balance sheet.

Is Depreciation an Expense?

Operating expenses are different from expenses relating to, for example, investing in projects and borrowing. A 2x factor declining balance is known as a double-declining balance depreciation schedule. As it is a popular option with accelerated depreciation schedules, it is often referred to as the “double declining balance” method. The straight-line depreciation method is the most widely used and is also the easiest to calculate. The method takes an equal depreciation expense each year over the useful life of the asset.

Most operating costs are considered variable costs because they change with the production level or size of the business. Operating expenses are represented on a balance sheet as a liability. Because they are a financial expense that does not directly contribute to selling services or products, they aren’t considered assets. The double-declining balance (DDB) method is an even more accelerated depreciation method.

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In these cases, it is challenging to determine whether depreciation is an operating expense or not. Depreciation is a part of the cost of sales and operating expenses. For instance, depreciation on machinery and factory will fall under the cost of sales. On the other hand, depreciation also refers to the accumulated amount for different assets. Companies that expense an asset out will include this amount in a contra-asset account. Since depreciation satisfies the criteria this definition sets, it is an expense.

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Accumulated depreciation is not recorded separately on the balance sheet. Instead, it’s recorded in a contra asset account as a credit, reducing the value of fixed assets. Both depreciation and amortization are accounting methods designed to help companies recognize expenses over several years. The expense reduces the amount of profit, allowing a company to have a lower taxable income.

This process requires substantial capital investments in various resources. Also remember that depreciation expense needs to be added back in when calculating working capital for your business, since it is not a cash expense. When your business purchases a big-ticket item such as a vehicle, a building, or equipment, you won’t be able to expense it immediately. One often-overlooked benefit of properly recognizing depreciation in your financial statements is that the calculation can help you plan for and manage your business’s cash requirements.

When businesses purchase long-term fixed assets, they can either choose to deduct the entire cost of the asset right away or to write it off for several years, until the item is no longer of use. Therefore, depreciation is a non-cash component of operating expenses. IAS 16 Property, Plant, and Equipment cover the accounting treatment for fixed assets.

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Depreciation involves spreading an asset’s cost over the periods it helps generate revenues. However, it is not a direct cost to the product or services produced by the company. When reporting depreciation, companies must differentiate between those assets. IAS 16 requires companies to use depreciation to expense out an asset. This process applies to almost every fixed asset with some exceptions, for example, land.


MACRS allows you to track and record depreciation using either the straight-line method or the double declining balance method. Accumulated depreciation totals depreciation expense since the asset has been in use. Thus, after five years, accumulated depreciation would total $16,000. Tracking the depreciation expense of an asset is important for reporting purposes because it spreads the cost of the asset over the time it’s in use. Whether you consider depreciation as an operating or non-operating expense largely depends on your perspective and how you choose to categorize expenses within your business. However, regardless of how you classify it, understanding how depreciation works can help ensure accurate financial reporting and decision making for your organization’s procurement needs.

Since assets contribute to revenues across several periods, companies cannot charge them for a single period. The method used by the IRS is called The Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS). MACRS requires that all depreciated assets be assigned to a specific asset class. You can find the detailed table in Publication 946, How to Depreciate Property, with the updated 2019 version expected soon. Depreciation expense is recorded on the income statement as an expense and represents how much of an asset’s value has been used up for that year.

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