Definition Of Total Intangible Amortization Expense

It’s difficult to find a comparable transaction because most intangibles are unique . It’s also difficult to find a comparable transaction and economic cycles have an effect on these transactions. Consider an intangible valued at $10,000 and amortized over 15 years . Amortization is similar to the straight-line method of depreciation, with equal amounts of annual deductions over the life of the asset.

The 50,000 value of Company A’s goodwill was derived from a transaction. The costs to acquire and defend intangible assets are used by accountants to establish intangible asset values. DepreciationDepreciation is a systematic allocation method used to account for the costs of any physical or tangible asset throughout its useful life. Depreciation enables companies to generate revenue from their assets while only charging a fraction of the cost of the asset in use each year. Intangible Assets Of A FirmIntangible Assets are the identifiable assets which do not have a physical existence, i.e., you can’t touch them, like goodwill, patents, copyrights, & franchise etc. They are considered as long-term or long-living assets as the Company utilizes them for over a year.

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Like depreciation, there are multiple methods a company can use to calculate an intangible asset’s amortization, but the simplest is the straight-line method. Tangible assets are items you can touch, such as equipment, inventory, and a company car. CPAs first should address whether the company intends to renew or extend the contract.

amortization of intangible assets

For example, a copyright will take on a legal life of 50 years, but it is expected to be useful only for 10 years. The costs of internally developing, maintaining or restoring intangible assets generally should be expensed as incurred . First, it can refer to the schedule of payments whereby a loan is paid off gradually over time, such as in the case of a mortgage or car loan. Second, it can refer to the practice of expensing the cost of an intangible asset over time. The valuation of intangible assets are primarily derived from transactions involving intangible assets. Intangible assets can have either identifiable or indefinite useful or legal lives.

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For example, a broadcast company may be abandoning its operations in an unprofitable service area and will not need to renew a broadcast license for the area. Once the company has decided it will not renew the license, then the next two questions need not be considered. For example, if your annual interest rate is 3%, then your monthly interest rate will be 0.0025% (0.03 annual interest rate ÷ 12 months). For example, a four-year car loan would have 48 payments (four years × 12 months). Negative amortization occurs if the payments made do not cover the interest due. The remaining interest owed is added to the outstanding loan balance, making it larger than the original loan amount.

  • Even those intangibles that weren’t assigned the full 40-year useful life prior to Statement no. 142 should be evaluated against the statement’s criteria.
  • If an intangible asset is internally generated, its cost is immediately expensed.
  • So, for only 5 years, the cost of the asset can be amortized, and it is expensed by only $ 1,000 each year.
  • The IRS designates 15 years as the useful life of most intangible assets.
  • For best practices on efficiently downloading information from, including the latest EDGAR filings, visit

Far less thought, however, has been given to other intangible assets that also may escape amortization under the criteria in Statement no. 142. (See the box for key provisions.) Amortizing an asset gradually reduces its value through periodic write-downs and requires companies to recognize an expense. Thus the decision whether to amortize an asset in the current period has a direct effect on the company’s bottom line. Amortization is recorded in the financial statements of an entity as a reduction in the carrying value of the intangible asset in the balance sheet and as an expense in the income statement. Intangible assets are initially recorded on financial statements at their purchase price, or the cost of acquiring the asset. If an intangible asset is internally generated, its cost is immediately expensed.

Controlling And Reporting Of Intangible Assets

You must amortize these costs if you own Section 197 intangibles in connection with your trade or business or in an activity engaged in for the production of income. Physical business assets and intangible assets have value to a business because the cost can be deducted as a business expense, cutting the business tax liability.

However, the process of deducting these expenses is different from the deduction of other expenses . Calculate the sum of each individual intangible asset’s amortization expense to determine your total intangible amortization expense. Continuing with the example, assume you have another patent with a $5,000 amortization expense. Add the $5,000 amortization expense of that patent to the $2,000 amortization expense of the other patent to get $7,000 in total intangible amortization expense.

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The useful life of the asset is the period of time over which the company expects the intangible asset to provide economic value to the business. The length that the asset is expected to produce benefits for the business. It can also be the length of the contract that allows for the use of the intangible asset.

How do you calculate assets amortization?

Subtract the residual value of the asset from its original value. Divide that number by the asset’s lifespan. The result is the amount you can amortize each year. If the asset has no residual value, simply divide the initial value by the lifespan.

If an intangible asset will continue to provide economic value without deterioration over time, then it should not be amortized. Instead, its value should be periodically reviewed and adjusted with an impairment. First, the company will record the cost to create the software on its balance sheet as an intangible asset. Accountants amortize intangible assets just like they depreciate physical capital assets.


You’ll use amortization instead of depreciation for intangible assets. Amortization is the process of reducing certain intangible assets in value over time due to a deterioration in their value. Both use the accounting method of straight-line depreciation, for tax purposes, to accomplish their goal. Goodwill is technically an intangible asset, but is usually listed separately on a company’s balance sheet.

Is goodwill impaired or amortized?

Under US GAAP and IFRS, goodwill is never amortized, because it is considered to have an indefinite useful life. Instead, management is responsible for valuing goodwill every year and to determine if an impairment is required.

As a practical matter it may help to consider, at the time of acquisition, what circumstances might limit or reduce an asset’s useful life, making them easier to spot in future years. If the company determines a useful life is finite, it should assign that life to the asset and begin amortization over that period. Any excess of carrying value over fair value should be eliminated by reducing the asset’s carrying value to fair value and recognizing an impairment loss for that amount.

Our priority at The Blueprint is helping businesses find the best solutions to improve their bottom lines and make owners smarter, happier, and richer. That’s why our editorial opinions and reviews are ours alone and aren’t inspired, endorsed, or sponsored by an advertiser. Editorial content from The Blueprint is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team. At the end of three years, the company reckons that their internal software will have no remaining value, so its residual value is therefore zero. Next, the company estimates that the software will have a useful life of just three years given the fast paced nature of software innovation. Its residual value is the expected value of the asset at the end of its useful life. The recorded value is the initial value assigned to the asset on the books, generally meaning its price or cost to create.

In addition to Investopedia, she has written for Forbes Advisor, The Motley Fool, Credible, and Insider and is the managing editor of an economics journal. Another case is when there comes an excess of the expenses in terms of the patent, maybe because of a break in terms of a third party. QuickBooks Online is the browser-based version of the popular desktop accounting application.

Related Terms

Goodwill is an example of an intangible asset that has an indefinite useful life, and is therefore tested for impairment on an annual basis as opposed to being amortized on a straight line basis. A company cannot purchase goodwill by itself; it must buy an entire business or a part of a business to obtain the accompanying intangible asset. Under current US GAAP, firms are required to compare the fair value of reporting units to the respective reporting unit’s book value, which is calculated as assets plus goodwill less liabilities. If the fair value of the reporting unit is less than its carrying value, goodwill has been impaired. An impairment loss is recognized on the income statement and the goodwill account is reduced.

Payments are divided into equal amounts for the duration of the loan, making it the simplest repayment model. A greater amount of the payment is applied to interest at the beginning of the amortization schedule, while more money is applied to principal at the end. The nature of an intangible asset will determine what costs are initially capitalized and how expenses related to the intangible asset are subsequently recognized. Estimate the intangible asset’s useful life, which is the number of years you expect to receive an economic benefit from it. Also, estimate its residual value, which is the value you expect it will have at the end of its useful life. For example, assume your patent has a useful life of 10 years and no residual value. Goodwill ImpairmentGoodwill impairment is the process of writing off the accounting charge amounting to the excess of the acquired asset’s book value as recorded in the financial statements over its fair value.


Once amortization begins, it is rarely changed unless there is evidence that the value of the intangible asset being amortized has become impaired. If so, there is an immediate write-down in the remaining value of the intangible asset in the amount of the impairment. These changes should be well-documented, since they will be examined by the company’s auditors as part of the annual audit.

amortization of intangible assets

A higher impairment charge reflects the company’s irrational investment decisions. The company does not intend to ever sell this software; it’s only to be used by company staff. This software is considered an intangible asset, and it must be amortized over its useful life. For most intangible assets, the residual value is zero as many intangible assets are considered worthless once they’ve been fully utilized. Applicant Tracking Choosing the best applicant tracking system is crucial to having a smooth recruitment process that saves you time and money.

Understanding Amortization

You must generally amortize the amount you pay for the lease over the remaining term. The best indicator of whether a company will renew a contract or do so without material modification is the company’s history of renewals/extensions of this or similar contracts. If this information is not available, the history of other companies in the same circumstances can be useful. A loan amortization schedule is a complete schedule of periodic blended loan payments showing the amount of principal and the amount of interest. The total payment stays the same each month, while the portion going to principal increases and the portion going to interest decreases. In the final month, only $1.66 is paid in interest, because the outstanding loan balance at that point is very minimal compared with the starting loan balance.

Let’s say that a company has developed a software solution to be used internally to better manage its inventory. Product Reviews Unbiased, expert reviews on the best software and banking products for your business. News Learn how the latest news and information from around the world can impact you and your business. Case Studies & Interviews Learn how real businesses are staying relevant and profitable in a world that faces new challenges every day. Beginner’s Guides Our comprehensive guides serve as an introduction to basic concepts that you can incorporate into your larger business strategy. Free Financial Modeling Guide A Complete Guide to Financial Modeling This resource is designed to be the best free guide to financial modeling!

Intangible assets include proprietary software, contracts, and franchise agreements. Other non-Section 197 intangibles are valued and amortized in different ways. For example, most business startup and organization costs must be amortized for 15 years, but not under Section 197. To calculate the amortization for the year, first divide the amount in Column by the number of months over which the costs are to be amortized (column to get a monthly amortization.