amortization expense definition

Amortization financial definition of Amortization

amortization expense definition

Amortization can refer to the process of paying off debt over time in regular installments of interest and principal sufficient to repay the loan in full by its maturity date. A higher percentage of the flat monthly payment goes toward interest early in the loan, but with each subsequent payment, a greater percentage of it goes toward the loan’s principal.

amortization expense definition

Valuing intangible assets that were developed by your company is much more complex, because only certain expenses can be included. Only the costs to secure the patent, such as legal, registration and defense fees, can be amortized. The costs incurred to develop the technology, such as R&D facilities and your engineers’ salaries, are deductible as business expenses.

Amortization of Intangibles

First, amortization is used in the process of paying off debt through regular principal and interest payments over time. An amortization schedule is used to reduce the current balance on a loan—for example, a mortgage or a car loan—through installment payments. ABC Co. also determined the useful life of the intangible asset to be five years. Amortization also refers to the acquisition cost of intangible assets minus their residual value. In this sense, the term reflects the asset’s consumption and subsequent decline in value over time. Goodwill, which are intangible assets acquired via merger or acquisition that cannot be attributed to other income-producing assets, and intangible assets with indefinite lifespan are not amortized. One notable difference between book and amortization is the treatment of goodwill that’s obtained as part of an asset acquisition.

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Measurement Subsequent To Acquisition: Cost Model And Revaluation Models Allowed

For companies to record amortization expenses, it is necessary to have some specific amounts. Firstly, companies must have the asset’s cost or its carrying value recognized based on the related standards.

  • This is an intangible asset, and should be amortized over the five years prior to its expiration date.
  • Amortization is an accounting technique used to periodically lower the book value of a loan or an intangible asset over a set period of time.
  • The selection of an allocation method for computing annual amortization charges is theoretically subject to the same considerations that apply to depreciation.
  • Then subtract the interest from the payment value to get the principal.
  • This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice.
  • From a company perspective, it would be amortizing expenses for assets, particularly intangible assets such as intellectual property rights.

Depreciation is an accounting method of allocating the cost of a tangible asset over its useful life to account for declines in value over time. Depreciation of some fixed assets can be done on an accelerated basis, meaning that a larger portion of the asset’s value is expensed in the early years of the asset’s life.

How amortization works

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  • You may need a small business accountant or legal professional to help you.
  • It is also possible for a company to use an accelerated depreciation method, where the amount of depreciation it takes each year is higher during the earlier years of an asset’s life.
  • Leasehold interests with remaining lives of three years, for example, would be amortized over the following three years.
  • In this case, the lender then adds outstanding interest to the total loan balance.
  • Depreciation of some fixed assets can be done on an accelerated basis, meaning that a larger portion of the asset’s value is expensed in the early years of the asset’s life.
  • The IRS has schedules that dictate the total number of years in which to expense tangible and intangible assets for tax purposes.

If the repayment model on a loan is not fully amortized, then the last payment due may be a large balloon payment of all remaining principal and interest. If the borrower lacks the funds or assets to immediately make that payment, or adequate credit to refinance the balance into a new loan, the borrower may end up in default. In the table below, using the straight-line method, a $10,000 loan carries an annual interest of 6 percent, and a fixed payment of $500 per month. As the balance decreases each month, the interest payment also declines, but the principal payment increases.

Amortization of Intangible Assets: Explanation

Continuing with the example, assume you have another patent with a $5,000 amortization expense. Add the $5,000 amortization expense of that patent to the $2,000 amortization expense of the other patent to get $7,000 in total intangible amortization expense. Divide the result by its useful life to determine its annual amortization expense. In this example, since the intangible asset has no residual value, amortization expense definition divide $20,000 by 10 years to get a $2,000 annual amortization expense. Amortization is the accounting practice of spreading the cost of an intangible asset over its useful life. Intangible assets are not physical in nature but they are, nonetheless, assets of value. The IRS has schedules that dictate the total number of years in which to expense tangible and intangible assets for tax purposes.

What are the different types of amortization?

Amortization methods include the straight line, declining balance, annuity, bullet, balloon, and negative amortization.

Use of this article does not create any attorney-client relationship. Accounting and tax rules provide guidance to accountants on how to account for the depreciation of the assets over time.

Amortization definition:

Say a company purchases an intangible asset, such as a patent for a new type of solar panel. Loan amortization, a separate concept used in both the business and consumer worlds, refers to how loan repayments are divided between interest charges and reducing outstanding principal. Amortization schedules determine how each payment is split based on factors such as the loan balance, interest rate and payment schedules. Amortization Expensemeans, for any period, amounts recognized during such period as amortization of all goodwill and other assets classified as intangible assets in accordance with GAAP. If an intangible asset has an indefinite lifespan, it cannot be amortized (e.g., goodwill). In some countries, including Canada, the terms amortization and depreciation are often used interchangeably to refer to tangible and intangible assets.

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Interest costs are always highest at the beginning because the outstanding balance or principle outstanding is at its largest amount. Businesses use depreciation on physical assets such as buildings and equipment to spread the cost of the assets over time, allowing the expense to be deducted while the assets are in use. For intangible assets, however, a different system is needed, because there is no physical property that can depreciate.


If no pattern is apparent, the straight-line method of amortization should be used by the reporting entity. In accounting, the amortization of intangible assets refers to distributing the cost of an intangible asset over time. You pay installments using a fixed amortization schedule throughout a designated period. And, you record the portions of the cost as amortization expenses in your books. Amortization reduces your taxable income throughout an asset’s lifespan. A company’s intangible assets are disclosed in the long-term asset section of its balance sheet, while amortization expenses are listed on the income statement, or P&L.

amortization expense definition

Unlike intangible assets, tangible assets might have some value when the business no longer has a use for them. For this reason, depreciation is calculated by subtracting the asset’s salvage valueor resale value from its original cost. The difference is depreciated evenly over the years of the expected life of the asset. Amortization is the gradual repayment of a debt over a period of time, such as monthly payments on a mortgage loan or credit card balance. Concurrently, SFAS 142,Goodwill and Other Intangibles,replaced the requirement to amortize goodwill with a periodic impairment testing approach. Over the past eight years, several Accounting Standards Updates have modified and relaxed the original requirements of SFAS 141 and 142. Determining how to account for the goodwill found in business combinations has been a hotly debated topic for decades.