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Depreciation in Accounting

Depreciation, meaning in accounting methods, is used by businesses to allocate the capital of tangible assets over the life. It represents the decrease in the value of an asset due to ups and downs.

Depreciation in accounting is calculated using various methods, such as straight-line depreciation, declining balance method, and units of production method, to distribute the asset's cost evenly or according to its usage over time.

Using SAP Accounting Best Practice, you can learn industry-leading techniques and strategies for optimizing accounting processes.

Table of Content

What Is Depreciation Accounting?

Depreciation in accounting, refers to the systematic allocation of the cost of a tangible asset over its estimated useful life. When a company acquires a long-term asset the cost of the asset is not immediately recognized as an expense on the income statement. Instead, the cost is spread out over the asset's useful life through depreciation. 

Basically, Depreciation in accounting systematically records the decrease in the value of tangible assets over time, ensuring accurate financial reporting and tax compliance.

A trial Balance in accounting is a statement that lists the total debits and credits of all accounts to ensure that the accounting equation (assets = liabilities + equity) is in balance.Depreciation in Accounting

Features of Depreciation Accounting

Below are the key features of the depreciation accounting:

  1. Allocation of Cost: Depreciation in accounting allocates the cost of tangible assets over their useful life.
  2. Financial Reporting: It provides accurate financial reporting by reflecting the true value of assets.
  3. Tax Compliance: Depreciation in accounting helps businesses comply with tax regulations and claim deductions appropriately.
  4. Different Methods: Various depreciation methods, like straight-line or declining balance, offer flexibility in calculating asset depreciation.
  5. Asset Management: It assists in tracking asset values and managing their useful life. It is also important to know the difference between cost accounting and management accounting
  6. Improved Decision-making: Businesses can make better financial decisions by accounting for asset depreciation. It is also essential to know the difference between cost accounting and financial accounting
  7. GAAP and IFRS Compliance: Depreciation meaning in accounting follows generally accepted accounting principles and international financial reporting standards.

Depreciation in Accounting Formula

The formula to calculate depreciation using the straight-line method is:

Depreciation Expense = (Initial Cost - Salvage Value) / Useful Life


  • Initial Cost is the original cost of the asset.
  • Salvage Value is the asset's estimated value at the end of its useful life.
  • Useful Life is the estimated number of years or units of production the asset will use.

Types of Depreciation in Accounting

Below are the major types of depreciation in accounting:

  • Straight-Line Depreciation
  • Declining Balance Depreciation
  • Units of Production Depreciation
  • Sum-of-the-Years'-Digits Depreciation
  • Double Declining Balance Depreciation
  • Straight-Line Method (SLM)

    Straight-Line Method (SLM) is one of the types of depreciation in accounting that allocates equal depreciation expense over the useful life of an asset, spreading the cost evenly.

  • Declining Balance Method

    The declining Balance Method is one of the types of depreciation in accounting that applies a fixed percentage to the asset's decreasing book value each year, resulting in higher depreciation in the early years.

  • Units of production depreciation

    Units of Production Depreciation is one of the types of depreciation in accounting that depreciates assets based on their usage or output, linking depreciation to the asset's production volume.

  • Double declining depreciation

    Double Declining is one of the types of depreciation in accounting Depreciation accelerates depreciation by applying a double percentage to the asset's book value each year, resulting in higher early-year depreciation.

  • Sum-of-Years Digits Method

    Sum-of-the-Years Digits Method is one of the types of depreciation in accounting that allocates more depreciation in the early years and less in the later years of an asset's life, using a sum of the digits of the asset's useful life.

Example of Depreciation Accounting

Example of depreciation in accounting using the Straight-Line Method:

Let's consider a company purchasing a piece of machinery for $20,000 with an estimated salvage value of $2,000 at the end of its useful life of 5 years.

Using the straight-line method:

Depreciation Expense per year = (Initial Cost - Salvage Value) / Useful Life

Depreciation Expense per year = ($20,000 - $2,000) / 5 = $3,600

Year 1:

Book Value at the beginning = $20,000

Depreciation Expense = $3,600

Book Value at the end of Year 1 = $20,000 - $3,600 = $16,400

Year 2:

Book Value at the beginning = $16,400

Depreciation Expense = $3,600

Book Value at the end of Year 2 = $16,400 - $3,600 = $12,800

And so on, until the end of Year 5, the asset's book value will be reduced to the salvage value of $2,000.Depreciation in Accounting

Difference Between Depreciation Expense and Accumulated Depreciation in Accounting

Below are the key differences between depreciation expenses and accumulated depreciation in accounting:

Aspect Depreciation Expense Accumulated Depreciation
Definition depreciation, in accounting, is the portion of an asset's cost allocated as an expense in a specific accounting period. The cumulative total of all depreciation expenses recognized over the life of an asset.
Nature of Account Income Statement Account Balance Sheet Account
Purpose depreciation meaning in accounting is to spread the cost of an asset over its useful life. To show the total depreciation charged on an asset since its acquisition.
Reporting Frequency Reported in each accounting period (e.g., monthly, quarterly, annual). Continuously updated and carried forward over time.
Impact on Net Income depreciation means, in accounting, reducing Net Income by increasing expenses. Does not impact Net Income directly (since it's on the Balance Sheet).
Account Type Expense Account (normal debit balance). Contra-Asset Account (normal credit balance).
Presentation on Financial Statements Presented on the Income Statement as a separate line item. Presented on the Balance Sheet as a deduction from the related asset's cost.
Reset to Zero Resets to zero at the end of the asset's useful life. Continues to accumulate until the asset's carrying amount is reduced to its salvage value.
Impact on Taxation depreciation, meaning in accounting, can be used as a tax deduction to lower taxable income. Reduces the value of the asset for tax purposes.


Depreciation in accounting is a vital accounting concept used to allocate the cost of tangible assets over their useful life. Various depreciation in accounting methods provides businesses with flexibility in managing their assets' financial impact. One can enroll in the Financial Analysis, Valuation, & Risk Management course to enhance your skills and expertise in these crucial financial disciplines.


Yes, depreciation accounting is considered an expense in financial reporting. It is an allocation of the cost of tangible assets over their useful life, reflecting the asset's wear and tear or obsolescence.

Tangible assets, such as buildings, machinery, equipment, vehicles, furniture, and computers, can be depreciated. Lands and intangible assets, like patents and copyrights, are generally not depreciated.

A depreciation in accounting schedule is a table or spreadsheet that outlines the depreciation expense for each year or period of an asset's useful life. It shows the beginning book value, depreciation expense, and ending book value over time.

Small businesses can calculate depreciation in accounting using different methods like straight-line, declining balance, or production units. The formula is: Depreciation Expense = (Initial Cost - Salvage Value) / Useful Life.

Depreciation in accounting is essential for accurate financial reporting, tax compliance, and aligning expenses with revenue generation. It helps businesses track the true value of assets, plan for replacement or upgrades, and make informed financial decisions. Additionally, depreciation in accounting ensures fair representation of a company's financial position and performance over time.

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