Amortization vs Depreciation: What’s the Difference?

  • 10 December 2021
Amortization vs  Depreciation: What’s the Difference?

For instance, businesses must check for goodwill impairment, which can be triggered by both internal and external factors. The goodwill impairment test is an annual test performed to weed out worthless goodwill. Explanations may also be supplied in the footnotes, particularly if there is a large swing in the depreciation, depletion, and amortization (DD&A) charge from one period to the next. Amortization Expense account is debited to record its journal entry.

  1. The monthly interest will decrease since a portion of the payment will presumably be used to reduce the remaining principal debt.
  2. This accounting function is to help companies cover their operating costs over time, while still being able to utilize and make money off of what they are paying off.
  3. Residual value is the amount the asset will be worth after you’re done using it.
  4. In a loan amortization schedule, this information can be helpful in numerous ways.
  5. The definition of depreciate is to diminish in value over a period of time.

Both methods appear very similar but are philosophically different. It is the concept of incrementally charging the cost (i.e., the expenditure required to acquire the asset) of an asset to expense over the asset’s useful life. Negative amortization is when the size of a debt increases with each payment, even if you pay on time.

British Dictionary definitions for amortization

Using this technique to spread your business’s payments of intangible assets or loans over time will reduce taxes for your business for the current tax year. For however long you are using that asset, you are entitled to a deduction on your taxes. In short, it describes the amortization meaning in accounting mechanism by which you will pay off the principal and interest of a loan, in full, by bundling them into a single monthly payment. This is accomplished with an amortization schedule, which itemizes the starting balance of a loan and reduces it via installment payments.

The concept is again referring to adjusting value overtime on a company’s balance sheet, with the amortization amount reflected in the income statement. Amortizing lets you write off the cost of an item over the duration of the asset’s estimated useful life. If an intangible asset has an indefinite lifespan, it cannot be amortized (e.g., goodwill).

Perhaps the biggest point of differentiation is that amortization expenses intangible assets while depreciation expenses tangible(physical) assets over their useful life. The amortization of loans is the process of paying down the debt over time in regular installment payments of interest and principal. An amortization schedule is a table or chart that outlines both loan and payment information for reducing a term loan (i.e., mortgage loan, personal loan, car loan, etc.).

A business that uses this option is building equity in the loaned asset while paying off the item at the same time. At the end of the amortized period, the borrower will own the asset outright. The dollar amount represents the cumulative total amount of depreciation, depletion, and amortization (DD&A) from the time the assets were acquired. Assets deteriorate in value over time and this is reflected in the balance sheet. The expense would go on the income statement and the accumulated amortization will show up on the balance sheet.

Planning a digital 1040 tax transformation

Even though intangible assets cannot be touched, they are still an essential aspect of operating many businesses. Amortization is the affirmation that such assets hold value in a company and must be monitored and accounted for. Depletion expense is commonly used by miners, loggers, oil and gas drillers, and other companies engaged in natural resource extraction. Enterprises with an economic interest in mineral property or standing timber may recognize depletion expenses against those assets as they are used. Depletion can be calculated on a cost or percentage basis, and businesses generally must use whichever provides the larger deduction for tax purposes. For instance, a business gains for years from using a long-term asset, thus, it deducts the amount gradually over the asset’s useful life.

Scheduling Period Payments

Amortization is an accounting term used to describe the act of spreading the cost of a loan or intangible asset over a specified period with incremental monthly payments. This accounting function is to help companies cover their operating costs over time, while still being able to utilize and make money off of what they are paying off. Amortization is a technique to calculate the progressive utilization of intangible assets in a company.

To assess performance, we will instead use EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), which is more directly related to a company’s financial health. Whether it is a company vehicle, goodwill, corporate headquarters, or a patent, that asset may provide benefit to the company over time as opposed to just in the period it is acquired. To accurately reflect the use of these assets, the cost of business assets can be expensed each year over the life of the asset. The expense amounts are then used as a tax deduction, reducing the tax liability of the business. Another difference is that the IRS indicates most intangible assets have a useful life of 15 years. For example, computer equipment can depreciate quickly because of rapid advancements in technology.

This method, also known as the reducing balance method, applies an amortization rate on the remaining book value to calculate the declining value of expenses. When looking at loans for your company, some things to consider are interest rates, as well as the debt covenants of business loans and the financial leveraging of said debts. An intangible asset refers to things that cannot be physically touched but are real nonetheless.

An example of an intangible asset is when you buy a copyright for an artwork or a patent for an invention. Amortization reflects the fact that intangible assets have a value that must be monitored and adjusted over time. The amortization concept is subject to classifications and estimates that need to be studied closely by a firm’s accountants, and by auditors that must sign off on the financial statements. A loan doesn’t deteriorate in value or become worn down over use like physical assets do.


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. There are easy to use schedule calculators that can help you figure out the best loan repayments schedule, taking into account the interest rates and loan type and terms. Accrual accounting permits companies to recognize capital expenses in periods that reflect the use of the related capital asset. In other words, it lets firms match expenses to the revenues they helped produce. Although the amortization of loans is important for business owners, particularly if you’re dealing with debt, we’re going to focus on the amortization of assets for the remainder of this article. The asset is amortized by the same rate for each year of its useful life.

Understanding Amortization

Financially, amortization can be termed as a tax deduction for the progressive consumption of an asset’s value, in particular an intangible asset. It is often used with depreciation synonymously, which theoretically refers to the same for physical assets. Amortization is an accounting method used to spread out the cost of both intangible and tangible assets used by a company. In general, the word amortization means to systematically reduce a balance over time.

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