how to calculate the cost of goods sold for services

Calculating the cost of goods sold (COGS) is a critical step for businesses providing services. COGS can be used to determine the gross profit generated by a particular service or group of services, allowing business owners to make informed decisions about pricing and profitability. Knowing how to accurately calculate the cost of goods sold for services can also be immensely helpful for tax purposes, as it is a key metric for determining taxable income. In this blog post, we’ll cover the basics of how to calculate the cost of goods sold for services, as well as some important considerations to keep in mind when doing so. We’ll also provide some helpful tips for tracking these costs over time to ensure accuracy and consistency.

Cost of goods sold (COGS) is calculated by adding up the various direct costs required to generate a company’s revenues. Importantly, COGS is based only on the costs that are directly utilized in producing that revenue, such as the company’s inventory or labor costs that can be attributed to specific sales.
  1. Identify your expenses. Begin by identifying every expense or cost associated with providing your business’s service to customers. …
  2. Consider any inventory costs. …
  3. Apply the formula. …
  4. Use your findings.

Understanding Costs of Goods Sold for your Service Business

With COGS, you can easily see the monetary value of the products or services you sell.

how to calculate the cost of goods sold for services

Your financial statements contain a lot of information, and it can be easy to skip over some of the numbers. But there is one figure you must not overlook: COGS, or cost of goods sold.

This is an important number that you should know in addition to using it to complete your tax return. This figure reveals your revenue from sales and can assist you in determining whether your pricing is appropriate.

What every service business needs to understand about cost of goods sold for services is that it can still be useful even if you don’t sell “goods.”

Although COGS seems like an esoteric subject, spending some time defining it makes it seem fairly straightforward. Think of your expenses as falling into two categories:

  • Costs that are directly related to producing a product or delivering a service
  • Those that don’t directly relate to producing a product or delivering a service
  • That first category are your COGS, which are variable. If you don’t sell anything, you won’t have any COGS. You only have these expenses when you sell something.

    Operating costs, in contrast to COGS, are indirect costs that don’t change according to how much you sell. This includes things like rent, utilities, and marketing costs. No matter how much you sell, your rent won’t change.

    There is an easy method to use if you’re looking at your expenses and aren’t sure which would be considered a COGS. If you would have to pay for it regardless of whether or not you sold anything, it’s probably not a COGS.

    You may be tempted to ignore a lot of the information regarding your finances because you are too busy managing a business. You might not consider it a top priority to sit down and calculate your COGS.

    Don’t skip past calculating and understanding your COGS. Here’s why:

    The gross profit margin is a crucial KPI for small business owners to monitor, and calculating it only requires two numbers: revenue and COGS.

    You can determine how much money you have left over after paying for the product you sold by looking at your gross profit margin. You must have a sufficient gross profit margin to cover all of your indirect costs, including marketing and salaries. You can gauge the health of your company’s finances by keeping track of whether your gross profit margin rises or falls over time.

    Getting pricing right is tough to do. Price it too high and you might have fewer customers. Price it too low and you’ll have trouble breaking even.

    Knowing your COGS can help you determine if you’re charging enough to recoup your costs. You’ll learn the exact costs associated with delivering your good or service to customers. You can therefore calculate the quantity you’ll need to sell to cover your other expenses. It’s possible that your price is too low if the quantity you need to sell is unreasonable.

    No matter how much money you make, there are monthly expenses that you must cover. These are your indirect costs. It is simple to determine your total indirect costs when you separate out your COGS.

    It’s really important to have a handle on these expenses. Knowing your monthly obligations will serve as a reminder of your break-even point, or the amount of revenue required to cover your costs.

    You can tell if costs associated with what you sell are rising, falling, or staying the same over time by observing whether your COGS increase and decrease over time in relation to how much you sell. You may want to look into why if your costs are rising while your sales aren’t if you have that situation.

    Can You Have Cost of Goods Sold for Services?

    Yes, sometimes. The IRS states that if you operate a personal service business and sell or charge for the supplies and equipment typically used in your enterprise, you must report the cost of goods sold for services on your tax return.

    A yoga studio that also sells yoga mats and clothing, for instance, will have COGS associated with the items that they sell. A hair salon with a shampoo and other product line will have COGS for those items.

    But what if all of your sales are of services rather than goods?

    The cost of services is not separately included by the IRS as it is with COGS However, it’s still crucial to monitor and assess this figure.

    For instance, if your company is a marketing agency and one of your clients requests your assistance with the launch of a new website. Despite needing to outsource some of the web design, you accept the job and hire a contract web designer. That cost should be included in your cost of services.

    Your gross profit from the project will be $7,000 if the total cost of the project was $10,000 and you paid the contracted web designer $3,000 for their services. Keeping track of this can help you determine whether you’ve priced your services fairly and keep tabs on the extra expenses you’re paying to serve your customers.

    Although it is not difficult to calculate COGS, you must maintain accurate records, which a good accounting system can assist you with. Before beginning to calculate your COGS, you must first gather a few numbers.

    Assuming that “starting inventory” refers to inventory at the start of the year and “ending inventory” refers to inventory at the end of the year, the following formula can be used to calculate COGS:

    Cost of goods sold equals ending inventory minus starting inventory plus purchases.

    This is a fairly simple calculation if you’re buying goods to resell. The dollar value of your inventory on January 1st, the amount you spent on purchases, and the dollar value of your inventory on December 31st will all be used.

    Your COGS is $9,000 ($5,000 + $8,000 – $4,000) if you sell T-shirts and had $5,000 in inventory at the start of the year, $8,000 in purchases made throughout the year, and $4,000 left at the end.

    You may also have other costs included in COGS. For instance, if you sell T-shirts with logos printed on them, you will also incur costs for labor, printing supplies, and direct utilities. Additional expenses include shipping fees and any salesperson commissions. Keep in mind that you must include any direct costs—expenses you only incur when you sell something.

    On IRS tax form Schedule C, part 3 you’ll see a worksheet to help you calculate COGS. It includes spaces for cost of labor, materials and other expenses.

    What is the cost of goods sold (COGS)?

    The cost of goods sold (COGS) is the cost of producing your goods. The calculation takes into account all direct labor and material costs. Additionally, it covers production-related overhead expenses like rent or utilities for your manufacturing facility.

    It’s crucial to remember that COGS calculations only take into account the goods you actually sell, not the inventory you currently hold.


    Depending on whether it is a product or service, cost of goods sold (COGS) may also be referred to as cost of sales (COS), cost of revenue, or product cost. It includes all expenses directly related to creating a good or providing a service. These costs can include labor, material, and shipping. Measurement of all variable costs directly related to producing a good or providing a service is the idea behind COGS.

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