Capitalized vs Expensed: Similarities and Differences

What is capitalized and expense?

The Difference Between Expensing & Capitalization : Marketing & Finance

What is expensing?

When a company incurs costs, they report them as an expense on their income statement. Then, they can calculate their profits for the period by deducting the cost from the revenue they are considering. Because an expensed cost appears on an organization’s income statement or statement of cash flows, it is not recorded as an asset on the balance sheet. A company may pay less in taxes as a result of expense expense because it allows them to submit their expenses more quickly.

What is capitalizing?

A cost is included as a capital expenditure when a business capitalizes it. This means that regardless of any expenses it might represent, the business can list it as an asset on their balance sheet. By not deducting the cost from the profit itself, capitalizing also means that the cost only appears on an income statement as an asset’s depreciation, which can increase a company’s profits. Typically, a cost is only capitalized by an organization if its useful life exceeds one period of operation.

Capitalized vs Expensed Costs

Here are some comparisons between capitalizing and expensing:


Costs must be recorded on financial statements when expensing costs as well as capitalizing them. The two activities also have an impact on a company’s annual taxes and reported profits for a specific time frame or business cycle. Another similarity is that capitalizing and expensing costs are both arbitrary in terms of their application because a business and its management can choose which operation to use in each circumstance.


The main distinction between capitalizing and depreciating costs is that the former is reported on the balance sheet, whereas the latter is reported on the income statement or statement of cash flows. Expensed costs show up as an operating cash outflow, whereas capitalized costs show up as an investing cash outflow.

Another significant difference between the two functions is how they affect a company’s taxes and profits. Capitalized costs may lead to a higher reported profit and a higher tax bill, whereas expensed costs may result in a lower reported profit and a potential tax bill reduction.

How capitalizing and expensing affect assets

The choice of whether to capitalize or expense costs can have an impact on a company’s assets and how they affect cash flow. Because any assets that benefit from the cost can be categorized as cash flow from investments, when a company capitalizes a cost, it can result in a higher cash flow.

Expensing, however, works the opposite way and can lower operating cash flow. This is due to the fact that immediately deducting a cost from revenue reduces reported profit and does not increase the value of existing assets.


Here are some examples of capitalizing and expensing:

Example 1: Capitalizing the cost of a vehicle

If a business buys a van for $60,000 and pays the price in full, they may decide to capitalize the cost in their accounting records. This is due to the fact that the van’s useful life is likely to exceed a single year or business cycle. The business can capitalize the $60,000 cost and account for the vans’ value loss for each year that it is still in use.

This implies that rather than deducting the cost of the van from their revenue, the business can instead include the cost as an asset on their balance sheet and only show their depreciation.

Example 2: Expensing the cost of materials

A company may record the cost of materials as an expense if it generates $8,000 in revenue in one business cycle and $800 in material costs during the same time. As a result, the business can deduct its expensed costs of $800 from its reported revenues of $8,000 to arrive at a total profit for the business cycle under consideration of $7,200. The company’s total assets for the period are reduced as a result of expensed material costs, which could lead to a decrease in shareholder equity.

Example 3: Capitalizing the cost of a new office building

A business can capitalize the cost of labor and materials when opening a new office location that requires the construction of a new building. The costs being capitalized total $7,000 if the construction materials cost $2,000 and the company pays the contractors $5,000 in wages.

Because the office being built can be useful for a number of years and because its operations can raise the value of any assets that gain from the offices opening, a business may decide to capitalize on this cost.

As a result, they can list the $7,000 price as an asset on their balance sheet and calculate the offices’ rate of depreciation so that it will appear on their income statement.

Example 4: Expensing the cost of repairs

A business may deduct the cost of repairs if it has annual revenue of $35,000 but must spend $4,000 to repair a piece of warehouse equipment during that year. The cost is one-time and does not increase the value of any other assets, so the business can subtract its value from revenue to calculate total profit.

This indicates that the business’s profit for the year was $31,000. Then, they can deduct the $4,000 expense for equipment repair from their total assets and shareholder equity by recording it as an expense on their income statement.


What is the difference between expensed and capitalized?

When a cost is consumed all at once, expensing is used; when it is consumed over a longer period of time, capitalizing is used. Another distinction is that when expenses are charged to expenses, there is typically no cap on the amount that can be capitalized.

Is it better to expense or capitalize?

You can easily see you spent the money. Contrary to capitalizing a purchase, an expense is one that immediately lowers the company’s net income. In addition to standard operating expenses like payroll, auto costs, bank fees, etc. other items are always expensed rather than capitalized

What is the difference between capitalizing and expensing an asset?

A cost is expensed when it is added to the income statement and deducted from revenue to calculate profit. When a cost is capitalized, it means that it has been determined to be a capital expenditure and is recorded as an asset on the balance sheet with only depreciation appearing on the income statement.

What does it mean to Capitalise a cost?

On a company’s balance sheet, a capitalized cost is an expense that is added to the cost basis of a fixed asset. Capitalized costs are incurred when building or purchasing fixed assets. Capitalized costs are recognized over time through depreciation or amortization rather than being expensed in the period in which they were incurred.

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