How to find amortization expense?

How to find amortization expense?

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Amortization expense refers to the gradual reduction of an intangible asset’s value over time. It is an essential concept in accounting, as it allows businesses to allocate the cost of an asset over its useful life. By understanding how to find amortization expense, businesses can accurately record and report their expenses, ensuring accurate financial statements.

What is Amortization Expense?

Amortization expense is a non-cash expense that represents the reduction in value of an intangible asset over its useful life. Intangible assets include items such as patents, copyrights, trademarks, and goodwill. Unlike tangible assets, which can be physically touched, intangible assets are non-physical and have a limited lifespan.

When a business acquires an intangible asset, it is typically recorded as an asset on the balance sheet. However, since intangible assets provide future economic benefits, their costs need to be allocated over time. This is where amortization expense comes into play.

Calculating Amortization Expense

To calculate amortization expense, you need to know three key pieces of information: the cost of the intangible asset, its useful life, and any residual value.

Cost of the Intangible Asset: The cost of the intangible asset includes all expenses incurred to acquire or create it. This may include legal fees, development costs, or purchase price. It is important to include all relevant costs to accurately determine the total cost of the asset.

Useful Life: The useful life of an intangible asset is an estimate of how long the asset will provide economic benefits to the business. This can vary depending on the type of asset and industry norms. For example, a patent may have a useful life of 20 years, while a trademark may have a useful life of 10 years.

Residual Value: The residual value is the estimated value of the asset at the end of its useful life. In some cases, the asset may have no residual value, while in others, it may still hold some value. It is important to consider this value when calculating the amortization expense.

Once you have these three pieces of information, you can use the following formula to calculate the annual amortization expense:

Amortization Expense = (Cost of the Intangible Asset – Residual Value) / Useful Life

For example, let’s say a business acquires a patent for $100,000 with a useful life of 10 years and no residual value. The annual amortization expense would be calculated as follows:

Amortization Expense = ($100,000 – $0) / 10 = $10,000 per year

Recording Amortization Expense

Amortization expense is typically recorded on the income statement as a separate line item. It is deducted from the revenue generated by the intangible asset, resulting in a lower net income. This accurately reflects the gradual reduction in the asset’s value over time.

It is important to note that amortization expense is a non-cash expense, meaning it does not involve any actual cash outflow. Instead, it represents the allocation of the asset’s cost over its useful life.


Understanding how to find amortization expense is crucial for businesses to accurately allocate the cost of intangible assets over their useful lives. By calculating and recording amortization expense correctly, businesses can ensure their financial statements reflect the true value of their assets and provide stakeholders with accurate information.


– Investopedia:
– AccountingTools:
– Corporate Finance Institute:
– Financial Accounting Standards Board:

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