Impairment Definition

Impairment of assets is the diminishing in quality, strength amount, or value of an asset. An impairment in accounting is a permanent reduction in the value of an asset to less than its carrying value.


Private companies in the US may elect to expense a portion of the goodwill periodically on a straight-line basis over a ten-year period or less, reducing the asset’s recorded value. An impairment cost must be included under expenses when the book value of an asset exceeds the recoverable amount.

Further Reading

If goodwill has been assessed and identified as being impaired, the full impairment amount must be immediately written off as a loss. An impairment is recognized as a loss on the income statement and as a reduction in the goodwill account.

  • A tractor that gets crushed by a falling tree has experienced an impairment that must be recorded on the books as such.
  • Certain assets, such as intangible goodwill, must be tested for impairment on an annual basis in order to ensure that the value of assets is not inflated on the balance sheet.
  • Depending on the type of asset being impaired, stockholders of a publicly held company may also lose equity in their shares, which results in a lower debt-to-equity ratio.
  • Of their asset portfolios because of their imprudent lending and investment policies.

The carrying value is defined as the value of the asset appearing on the balance sheet. The recoverable amount is the higher of either the asset’s future value for the company or the amount it can be sold for, minus any transaction costs. The first step is to identify the factors that lead to an asset’s impairment. Some factors may include changes in market conditions, new legislation or regulatory enforcement, turnover in the workforce or decreased asset functionality due to aging.

Medical Definitions For Impairment

She most recently worked at Duke University and is the owner of Peggy James, CPA, PLLC, serving small businesses, nonprofits, solopreneurs, freelancers, and individuals. A fixed asset is a long-term tangible asset that a firm owns and uses to produce income and is not expected to be used or sold within a year. As part of the same entry, a $50,000 credit is also made to the building’s asset account, to reduce the asset’s balance, or to another balance sheet account called the “Provision for Impairment Losses.” After assessing the damages, ABC Company determines the building is now only worth $100,000. The building is therefore impaired and the asset value must be written down to prevent overstatement on the balance sheet. Unlike impairment of an asset, impaired capital can naturally reverse when the company’s total capital increases back above the par value of its capital stock. If impairment is confirmed as a result of testing, an impairment loss should be recorded.


Free Financial Modeling Guide A Complete Guide to Financial Modeling This resource is designed to be the best free guide to financial modeling! A cash flow Statement contains information on how much cash a company generated and used during a given period. Unlevered Free Cash Flow is a theoretical cash flow figure for a business, assuming the company is completely debt free with no interest expense.

Fixed Asset Vs Current Asset: What’s The Difference?

Impairment occurs when a business asset suffers a depreciation in fair market value in excess of the book value of the asset on the company’s financial statements. Consider enhancing sensitivity disclosures and disclosures about the key assumptions and major sources of estimation uncertainty in the interim and annual financial statements.


Under generally accepted accounting principles , assets are considered to be impaired when their fair value falls below their book value. Learn accounting fundamentals and how to read financial statements with CFI’s free online accounting classes. Change in legal climate – It’s also possible that a lawsuit, court case, or some other change to the general business/legal climate could cause a reduction in value of the asset. For example, if a worker gets injured while using your equipment and sues your company, you may not be able to use the asset until the legal situation is resolved.

Effect On Depreciation

In accordance with both GAAP in the United States and IFRS in the European Union and elsewhere, goodwill is not amortized. In order to accurately report its value from year to year, companies perform an impairment test. There is also the risk of future visual impairments and degenerative tissue disease. Peggy James is a CPA with over 9 years of experience in accounting and finance, including corporate, nonprofit, and personal finance environments.

What is impairment loss with example?

The technical definition of the impairment loss is a decrease in net carrying value, the acquisition cost minus depreciation, of an asset that is greater than the future undisclosed cash flow of the same asset.

Impairment involves an unexpected and drastic drop in the fair value of an asset. An impaired capital event occurs when a company’s total capital becomes less than the par value of the company’s capital stock. Consider whether discount rates used in recent valuations have been updated to reflect the risk environment at the reporting date. The Structured Query Language comprises several different data types that allow it to store different types of information… Excel Shortcuts PC Mac List of Excel Shortcuts Excel shortcuts – It may seem slower at first if you’re used to the mouse, but it’s worth the investment to take the time and…

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A fully depreciated asset has already expended its full depreciation allowance where only its salvage value remains. The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in oureditorial policy.

An example of an impairment is when a tornado blows the roof off a factory, with rain ruining the machinery installed there. Company BB acquires the assets of company CC for $15M, valuing its assets at $10M and recognizing goodwill of $5M on its balance sheet. After a year, company BB tests its assets for impairment and finds out that company CC’s revenue has been declining significantly. As a result, the current value of company CC’s assets has decreased from $10M to $7M, having an impairment to the assets of $3M. Companies should assess whether or not an adjustment for impairment to goodwill is needed each fiscal year. This impairment test may have a substantial financial impact on the income statement, as it will be charged directly as an expense on the income statement. In some cases, goodwill may be completely written off and removed from the balance sheet.

Is the situation when the current value of an asset is less than the historical cost. The depreciation charge is smaller than if the original non-current asset value had been used. A capital lease is a contract entitling a renter the temporary use of an asset and, in accounting terms, has asset ownership characteristics. Depreciation schedules allow for a set distribution of the reduction of an asset’s value over its lifetime.

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What is physical and mental impairment?

The term physical or mental impairment includes, but is not limited to, such diseases and conditions as orthopedic, visual, speech and hearing impairments, cerebral palsy, autism, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Human Immunodeficiency Virus infection, mental …

When recognising and documenting the value of your company’s assets, their valuation is generally determined by the market. However, the value of assets changes over time, and it’s important that this changing valuation is accurately recorded on your business’s balance sheet.

Example Of Impairment Accounting

Using the ‘T’ account system, there will be a debit in the Loss on Impairment account and a credit in the Investment account. An asset’s carrying value, also known as its book value, is the value of the asset net of accumulated depreciation that is recorded on a company’s balance sheet.

This situation exists when the cash flows or other benefits generated by an asset decline, as determined through a periodic assessment process. Depending on the situation, an impairment can cause a major decline in the book value of a business.

Impairment In Accounting

A write-down is the reduction in the book value of an asset when its fair market value has fallen below the book value, and thus becomes an impaired asset. A debit entry is made to “Loss from Impairment,” which will appear on the income statement as a reduction of net income, in the amount of $50,000 ($150,000 book value – $100,000 calculated fair value). Certain assets, such as intangible goodwill, must be tested for impairment on an annual basis in order to ensure that the value of assets is not inflated on the balance sheet. Impairment can occur as the result of an unusual or one-time event, such as a change in legal or economic conditions, a change in consumer demand, or damage that impacts an asset. If there is an indicator of impairment reversal for an asset, then review whether the remaining useful life, the depreciation method and/or the residual value remain appropriate.

  • It is, therefore, important for a company to test its assets for impairment periodically.
  • A cash flow Statement contains information on how much cash a company generated and used during a given period.
  • Obviously, this cognitive impairment is closely allied to and inseparable from emotional and relational difficulties.
  • Consequently, it’s a good idea to have a robust understanding of impairment – the mechanism by which you can reduce the carrying amount of an asset to its recoverable amount.
  • Assets should be tested for impairment regularly to prevent overstatement on the balance sheet.

For example, a construction company may face extensive damage to its outdoor machinery and equipment due to a natural disaster. This will appear on its books as a sudden and large decline in the fair value of these assets to below their carrying value. She is an expert in personal finance and taxes, and earned her Master of Science in Accounting at University of Central Florida. Consider whether there are any indicators of impairment reversal for the company’s assets . The only change to cash flow would be if there were a tax impact, but that would generally not be the case, as impairments are generally not tax-deductible.

Standard GAAP practice is to test fixed assets for impairment at the lowest level where there are identifiable cash flows. For example, an auto manufacturer should test for impairment for each of the machines in a manufacturing plant rather than for the high-level manufacturing plant itself. If there are no identifiable cash flows at this low level, it’s allowable to test for impairment at the asset group or entity level. Any write-off due to an impairment loss can have adverse effects on a company’s balance sheet and its resulting financial ratios. It is, therefore, important for a company to test its assets for impairment periodically. Impairment losses are either recognized through the cost model or the revaluation model, depending on whether the debited amount was changed through the new, adjusted fair market valuation described above. Even when impairment results in a small tax benefit for the company, the realization of impairment is bad for the company as a whole.