How Do You Calculate the Depreciation in Accounting?

It is costly to acquire assets like machinery and equipment. Depreciation can be used to stretch out the cost of an asset over time, rather than having it all come out of the company's pocket in the first year. This permits a corporation to depreciate an asset over time, including the asset's usable life.

It is necessary for businesses to consistently depreciate their assets in order to transfer asset expenses from the balance sheets to the income statements. For example, if a corporation purchases an asset, it deducts the purchase price from its balance sheet and credits it to reduce its cash (or increase its accounts payable) balance. There is no impact on the income statement from either journal entry.

An asset's cost over its useful life is distributed using depreciation costs in accounting. Simple definition: a loss in an asset's value over time due to use, wear and tear, or obsolescence.

Return on assets and return on investment are important financial concepts to understand. As a result, a company's asset value depreciates over time, resulting in depreciation. For example, during the course of its useful life, a tool's original purchase price depreciates to zero dollars.

What Is Depreciation?

During the useful life of a tangible or physical asset, an accounting process known as depreciation is applied. It enables companies to make money from their assets by paying for them over time. For each unit of an asset used, its value is depreciated by the amount of time it has been in use.

The immediate cost of ownership is greatly lowered because corporations do not have to account for them fully in the year in which the assets are purchased. If depreciation isn't taken into account, the bottom line will suffer. Long-term assets can be depreciated for tax and accounting reasons.

Special Considerations

Depreciation is a non-cash expense because there is no actual cash outflow. When an asset is purchased, the entire cash outlay may be paid upfront, but the expense is reported in increments for financial reporting purposes instead. That's because assets provide a long-term advantage to the organization. However, a company's earnings are reduced due to depreciation, which is beneficial for tax purposes.

A common accounting principle is known as the "matching principle" states that expenses should be matched to the same period in which the corresponding revenue is earned. Depreciation serves as a link between the initial purchase price of an asset and the long-term value it provides.

In other words, the asset that is used year after year and creates revenue also records the extra expense connected with utilizing the asset. The depreciation rate measures the annual percentage decline in the value of an asset. The annual depreciation would be $15,000 if the total depreciation were $100,000 throughout the asset's projected lifespan. This equates to a 15% annual growth rate.

Threshold Amounts

Depending on the company, several thresholds may be established for the start of depreciation on a fixed asset or PPE (PP&E). For example, in the case of a small business, a $500 depreciation threshold may be set for an asset. On the other hand, a larger corporation may set a $10,000 threshold, below which all purchases are instantly expensed.

Depreciation Over Time

Contra asset account: The natural balance of accumulated depreciation is a credit, which reduces the asset's overall worth. Any asset's accumulated depreciation is the depreciation that has accrued up to a single point in its lifespan.

As indicated earlier, carrying value is the difference between the asset account and the cumulative depreciation. Until the asset is sold or disposed of, the salvage value is the value that stays on the company's balance sheet.

It is based on what a corporation anticipates to get for the asset when it is no longer usable. Depreciation is based in part on an asset's assessed salvage value.

Depreciation Types

Depreciation of capital assets and other revenue-generating assets is done in a variety of ways by accountants. Straight-line, double-declining balance, decreasing balance, the sum of the year's digits, and unit of production. We've outlined some of the fundamentals of each in the following paragraphs.


The simplest way to keep track of depreciation is through the straight-line method. Every year, until the asset is completely depreciated to its salvage value, it records the same amount of depreciation expenditure on the balance sheet.

Let's imagine that a business purchases a $5,000 machine. There are five years of useful life and a salvage value of $1,000. In this case, the depreciable amount is $4,000 ($5,000 cost – $1,000 salvage value).

By dividing the total depreciable amount by the number of years, the straight-line technique calculates the depreciation for each year. This works out to an annual cost of $800 ($4,000 / 5) in this scenario. There is a 20% decline in value ($800 / $4,000).

Balance Loss

Depreciation occurs at a faster pace when the declining balance approach is used. This approach depreciates the machine annually at its straight-line depreciation rate multiplied by its remaining depreciable quantity. Depreciation expense is higher in the earlier years since the asset's carrying value is higher, but the amount decreases each year.

Assuming the straight-line example above, the machine costs $5,000 and has a $1,000 salvage value. It has a five-year life expectancy and is depreciated at a rate of 20% per year. As a result, the expense is $800 in the first year (20% x $4,000 depreciable amount), $640 in the second year (20% x ($4,000 - $800)), and so forth.

Double-declining equilibrium (DDB)

In addition to the accelerated depreciation methods, there is the double-declining balance (DDB) approach. This rate is applied to the depreciable base—the asset's book value—for the duration of the asset's estimated life after taking the reciprocal of the asset's useful life and multiplying it.

If an asset has a five-year life expectancy, its reciprocal value is 1/5 of that time or 20 percent. The asset's current book value is depreciated at a rate of 40 percent. Despite a fixed rate, the dollar value will fall over time since the rate is multiplied by a reduced depreciable base for each period.

Year-sum digits (SYD)

Accelerated depreciation is also possible with the sum-of-the-years digits (SYD) technique. To begin, add up all of the asset's estimated lifespan digits. An asset that lasts for five years has a base of the sum of the first through fifth numbers, or 1+2+3+4+5 = 15. 5/15 of the depreciable base will be discounted in the first depreciation year. Only 4/15 of the depreciable basis is deducted in the second year. This process continues until the final 1/15 of the base is depreciated in year five.

Produced Items

This approach necessitates an estimation of the total number of units that a given asset will generate throughout the course of its useful life. The quantity of units produced is used to determine depreciation costs each year. The depreciable amount is used to compute depreciation costs as well.

Why Are Depreciation Expenses Different from Accumulated Depreciation?

In other words, while accumulated depreciation is recorded as an asset on the balance sheet, depreciation costs are reported as an expense on the income statement. A company's assets need to be properly valued when it is sold, and the year-end tax deductions are taken into account, and both of these factors are vital in determining the genuine value of the equipment, machinery, or other assets.

For tax purposes, the more frequent kind of depreciation expense is the one that is reported on year-end and quarterly reports but both of these depreciation entries should be included. It is typical practice to use accumulated depreciation to estimate the life expectancy of a product or to keep track of depreciation year after year.

Is Depreciation A Credit Or A Debit?

When a depreciation account is debited, the accumulated depreciation account is credited, as happens every year. The total amount of depreciation on an asset rises as the cost of the asset is deducted from the asset's value.

Fixed assets, on the other hand, are in the red. Depreciation as a credit balance can be used to offset the fixed asset cost.

In a contra-asset account, cumulative depreciation lowers the asset's value over time. As a result, the total accumulated depreciation on the balance sheet is negative.

On the other hand, the fixed asset is valued at its initial purchase price. Depreciation accumulated during the life of a fixed asset can tell investors how much the asset has depreciated.

The net difference is the net book value of the asset. By recording accumulated depreciation as a credit, investors can easily determine the depreciation, fixed asset's original cost, and net book value.

How Valuable Is Depreciation?

Accumulated depreciation is the total amount of money spent on depreciating a fixed asset up to a specific date. Fixed asset depreciation accumulated is the sum total of all depreciation expenditures that have been made on the asset over the years.

Therefore, a contra asset account contains a negative amount to counteract the asset account it is connected with, resulting in a negative net book value for the asset in question.

It is distinct from traditional asset and liability accounting for a variety of reasons. An account balance is not an asset because they do not represent a long-term source of value for the company.

Depreciation is a measure of the amount of economic worth that has been used up in the past. In order to retain records, it does not imply any duty to pay. Because there is no payment requirement reflected in the account balances, it is not a liability either.

Consider cumulative depreciation as an asset rather than a liability if you must pick between the two. Liability would indicate that the reporting entity is answerable to a third party, which is incorrect.

What Is The Purpose Of Using Depreciation?

Depreciation is an accounting tool that helps you better understand your firm's true expenditures, reduce your tax burden, and estimate the value of your organization. Depreciation is used for the following three reasons.

Business Expenses

If you want to know how profitable your business is, you must know all of its costs. Due to the fact that assets will eventually need to be replaced, depreciation is one of these expenses.

The value of your assets is depreciated over time through the process of depreciation. Unless you keep an eye out for depreciation, you're likely to overestimate your expenses and underestimate your revenue.

Low Tax Rates

Taxes are reduced as a result of depreciation, which lowers your profit. Because of this, you'll end up paying an excessive amount in taxes. The entire value of an asset can be gradually demanded from your tax return. There are, however, tax laws governing the rate at which certain assets can be devalued.

The Value Of A Company

The worth of your firm may decrease in a manner comparable to the depreciation of assets. There are several factors to consider when valuing a firm, such as the age of its vehicles and the quality of its employees.

Remember that assets can also be used as collateral for loans. It becomes more difficult to obtain financing for them as their worth decreases.

Which Is Better Expense Or Depreciation?

An item can be expensed rather than depreciated for the time being since money has value. If you want to claim a tax deduction for an item's expense, you must first write it off in the current year.

It is possible to spend the money you saved from taxes after you have taken this deduction. It may take several years to depreciate the annual depreciation sequence before you realize the full tax benefit.

How Do You Compute Depreciation?

Three elements must be taken into account when calculating an asset's depreciation:

Base depreciable:

Salvage value is taken into account while calculating this figure. The OC includes the asset's purchase price as well as any additional costs incurred during setup. Subtract the depreciation from the asset's initial cost to determine its salvage value.

Useful life:

An asset's projected useful life before it becomes outdated or worn out. A person's physical life and functional life maybe two distinct things entirely.

Method of depreciation:

The asset's nature necessitates an approach that is both methodical and sensible. Some methods presume depreciation is based on usage, while others believe it is dependent on the amount of time it has been in service. The low cost and ease of use are the two most important considerations when selecting a method. Additionally, calculators4you offers a Car Depreciation Calculator and a Sales Tax Calculator that you may make use of.