How to calculate accumulated depreciation

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It’s the end of December, which means it’s time to put together our end-of-year financial statements. But before we do, we need to figure out how we should account for accumulated depreciation.

Accumulated depreciation
Accumulated depreciation

Key Takeaways

1. Accumulated depreciation is the total depreciation expense of an asset that has been charged through previous accounting periods.

2. The sum of the accumulated depreciation of an asset over the life of the asset is known as its “salvage value.”

3. Accumulated depreciation on the balance sheet accounts is deducted from asset values to calculate net book values.

What is accumulated depreciation?

Accumulated depreciation is a method of recording the depreciation of an asset over time.

Businesses keep track of their fixed assets, such as office equipment, furniture and fixtures, and vehicles.

Accumulated depreciation is calculated by subtracting the asset’s original cost from its residual value.

When a business purchases an asset to use in its business operations, that asset is recorded as a debit in its accounting records.

In this case, the asset is recorded at its purchase price. As that asset is used up or depreciates in value, the asset’s book value decreases.

Businesses use accumulated depreciation to track their assets over their useful lives. Depreciation is an expense, and businesses that write off expenses on their taxes are required to use the accrual basis of accounting.

Under the accrual method, businesses record expenses when they incur them, not when they pay them.

When calculating taxable income, a business can deduct the total amount of accumulated depreciation from the asset’s book value.

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Since accountants must track depreciation and expense transactions separately, the total accumulated depreciation is listed as either a debit or a credit in the accounting records.

How to calculate accumulated depreciation

Accumulated depreciation is the total depreciation that has been applied to an asset since it was originally purchased. The accumulated depreciation asset account is a contra asset account. This means that it functions as a debit, but it can be found on the balance sheet as an asset.

In order to calculate the accumulated depreciation, you need to determine the beginning balance, the depreciation for the year, and the ending balance. Once you have these, the calculation is very simple:

**Beginning balance – Depreciation for the year – Ending balance**

For example, let’s say you purchased an office building for $300,000 in 2013. You spent $15,000 to update the building, but you also found some additional office space in the basement. You spent $25,000 to remove the old walls and install new carpeting.

In 2014, the building depreciated $20,000. You expect the depreciation to increase by $10,000 per year in the future.

To determine the accumulated depreciation, you would begin by dividing the beginning balance of $300,000 by the number of years you owned the building (10). This will give you a beginning balance of $30,000.

**$300,000 ÷ 10 = $30,000**

You would then subtract the $20,000 of depreciation from that number.

**$30,000 – $

What causes accumulated depreciation?

The amount of accumulated depreciation at the end of a fiscal period, can be used by management to help in the decision making process.

Defined as the difference between an asset’s cost and its salvage value.

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A debit balance amount that is recorded on the balance sheet as an increase to an asset account, and a credit balance amount that decreases an asset account.

The balance of accumulated depreciation is reported in the balance sheet and in an entity’s income statement.

When a company purchases a property at $1,000,00 with 10% AV. The amount that the asset is depreciated is $100,000.


$1,000,000 – $10,000 = $990,000

$990,000 – $980,000 = $20,000

The Accumulated Depreciation account is eventually reduced by $20,000 and we have $980,000 left in the asset account.

What is the effect of accumulated depreciation on Profit and Loss?

Many assets have a limited useful service life. When they eventually become unusable, they must be replaced. To account for this, accountants depreciate the cost of the asset, which is the amount that is expensed on financial statements.

However, as time passes, the value of the asset actually declines. This decline is not usually recognized accounting-wise. Instead, the accountant records the difference between the purchase price and the estimated residual value as a contra-asset called accumulated depreciation.

Accumulated depreciation is not a liability, and therefore, it is not a debit or credit. Rather, it is a temporary reduction in an asset’s account. When an asset is sold, the accumulated depreciation is cleared off the account.

Accumulated depreciation is most commonly seen on fixed assets, like furniture, buildings, equipment, and land.

The effect of accumulated depreciation on Balance Sheet accounts

The accumulated depreciation account is used to reduce the amount of a business’s assets that is listed on its balance sheet. This account is posted when there are changes to the asset’s value. Each time the asset is written down, the accumulated depreciation account is increased and the carrying value of the asset is reduced.

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When an asset is written down, one of three effects on the balance sheet can occur. If the asset is “held and used,” the accumulated depreciation account will be reduced and the asset’s carrying value will be increased. If the asset is “held and not used,” the accumulated depreciation account will be increased and the asset’s carrying value will be decreased. If the asset is “sold or otherwise disposed of,” the accumulated depreciation account will be removed.

When an asset is sold or disposed, the difference between the sale price and the carrying value of the asset becomes a gain or a loss on the income statement. Depreciation expense is an expense on the income statement.

How to calculate accumulated depreciation

Accumulated depreciation is a contra asset account that reduces the asset value of the fixed asset. The effect is that the value of the fixed asset is reduced. If the balance sheet was to end at the current moment with a fully depreciated asset, the accumulated depreciation would have a debit assigned to it.However, if the value of a fixed asset increases after the balance sheet date, the accumulated depreciation would increase by the same amount, resulting in a credit assigned to it.In other words, if a fixed asset was fully depreciated on the balance sheet date and the value increased by $100 on the day after that, the accumulated depreciation would be $100 + $100 = $200 at the end of the next year.

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