In accounting, amortization refers to the periodic expensing of the value of an intangible asset. Similar to depreciation of tangible assets, intangible assets are typically expensed over the course of the asset’s useful life. It represents reduction in value of the intangible asset due to usage or obsolescence. Basically, intangible assets decrease in value over time, and amortization is the method of accounting for that decrease in value over the course of the asset’s useful life. A company’s long-term capital expenditures can also be amortized over time.
Intangible assets are recorded on the balance sheet. But over time, as you amortize these assets, the amortized amount accumulates in a contra-asset account. Therefore, it diminishes the net value of the intangible assets. The periodic amortization amounts are expensed on the income statement as incurred. Whereas on the cash flow statement, these expenses are added back to net income in the operating section. This is because they represent non-cash expenses.
Examples of intangible assets that a company may amortize include the following:
In International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), the rules and standards for intangible asset amortization are described in International Accounting Standard 38: Intangible Assets. In the United States, according to General Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), the rules and standards for intangible asset amortization are described in Statement of Financial Accounting Standards No. 142: Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets.
Amortizing a loan consists of spreading out the principal and interest payments over the life of the loan. Spread out the amortized loan and pay it down based on an amortization schedule or table. There are different types of this schedule, such as straight line, declining balance, annuity, and increasing balance amortization tables. Amortizing mortgages is common.
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