Capitalization: What It Means in Accounting and Finance

When a company capitalizes accrued interest, it adds up the total amount of interest owed since the last debt payment made and adds the amount to the cost of the long-term asset or loan balance. All costs that benefit more than one accounting period or fiscal year are required to be capitalized according to GAAP. This is consistent with the matching principle because revenues and expenses are matched in each accounting period. Here it can refer to the book value cost of capital, which is the sum of a company’s long-term debt, stock, and retained earnings. The alternative to the book value is the market value or market capitalization.

  • These capitalized costs move from the balance sheet to the income statement, expensed through depreciation or amortization.
  • Any costs that benefit future periods should be capitalized and expensed, so as to reflect the lifespan of the item or items being purchased.
  • The project will take a year to complete to put the building to its intended use, and the company is allowed to capitalize its annual interest expense on this project, which amounts to $500,000.

U.S. tax laws also allow the capitalization of interest, which provides a tax deduction in future years through a periodic depreciation expense. Capitalized interest is part of the historical cost of acquiring assets that will benefit a company over many years. When high dollar value items are capitalized, expenses are effectively smoothed out over multiple periods. This allows a company to not present large jumps in expense in any one period from an expensive purchase of property, plant, or equipment. The company will initially show higher profits than it would have if the cost were expensed in full.

Capitalized Cost vs. Expense

The timing of interest being capitalized will greatly vary depending on the interest itself. For student loans, interest is capitalized as part of the loan agreement and type of loan. This may also depend on the type of education (undergraduate vs. graduate) being pursued.

The income statement depreciation expense is the amount of depreciation expensed for the period indicated on the income statement. The process of writing off an asset over its useful life is referred to as depreciation, which is used for fixed assets, such as equipment. Amortization is used for intangible assets, such as intellectual property.

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Any costs that benefit future periods should be capitalized and expensed, so as to reflect the lifespan of the item or items being purchased. Costs that can be capitalized include development costs, construction costs, or the purchase of capital assets such as vehicles or equipment. Capitalized interest is an accounting practice required under the accrual basis of accounting. Capitalized interest is interest that is added to the total cost of a long-term asset or loan balance.

Most Words in Titles

In addition to the machinery and hardware, the company would need to buy green coffee to roast, and it also needs to pay its employees to roast and sell that coffee. Further costs would include marketing and advertising their product, sales, distribution, and so on. To capitalize is an accounting determination whereby the recognition of expenses is delayed by recording the expense as a long-term asset and then released over its useful life. Whether a transaction is expense or capitalized is guided by the matching-principle of accounting.

Capitalization after a colon

Undercapitalization occurs when earnings are not enough to cover the cost of capital, such as interest payments to bondholders or dividend payments to shareholders. Overcapitalization occurs when there’s no need for outside capital because profits are high and earnings were underestimated. Depreciation is an expense recorded on the income statement; it is not to be confused with “accumulated depreciation,” which is a balance sheet contra account.

But according to Chicago style, the first word following the colon should be capitalized only if there is more than one complete explanatory sentence following the colon. In academic writing, some types of nouns are often incorrectly capitalized. The table below shows academic terms that should not be capitalized. Note, though, that proper nouns within these terms are still capitalized as usual. Days of the week (e.g., Wednesday), months of the year (e.g., August), and holidays and festivals (e.g., Christmas, Ramadan) are capitalized.


However, note that the names of existing tests, inventories and questionnaires should be capitalized. Accrued interest is the amount of interest that has accumulated on a loan since the last payment was made. For example, if a borrower has a monthly payment on a loan and they miss a payment, interest will continue to accrue on the loan until the borrower makes their next payment. The interest that is due but has not yet been paid during that time is referred to as accrued interest. Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years. He is the sole author of all the materials on

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