Expenses in Accounting Definition, Types, and Examples

The other four categories are revenue, owner’s equity, assets, and liabilities. Expenses in the double-entry bookkeeping system are recorded as a debit to a specific expense account. Simultaneously, the same amount’s credit entry also needs to be recorded, which will reduce your assets and increase your liabilities. An expense is a cost that businesses incur in running their operations. Expenses include wages, salaries, maintenance, rent, and depreciation.

Cost is the monetary measure (cash) that has been given up in order to buy an asset. An expense is a cost that has expired or been taken up by activities that help generate revenue. Therefore, all expenses are costs, but not all costs are expenses. An expense is the reduction in value of an asset as it is used to generate revenue. If the underlying asset is to be used over a long period of time, the expense takes the form of depreciation, and is charged ratably over the useful life of the asset. If the expense is for an immediately consumed item, such as a salary, then it is usually charged to expense as incurred.

Selling and distribution expenses

Usually, direct expenses are linked to the manufacturing of a product, for example, the cost of raw materials. Direct expenses therefore fluctuate according to the rate of production, but should be consistent for each unit of production. An exception to this rule is where the services are obtained in relation to the acquisition of an asset, in which case its cost is accumulated in the cost of that asset. An example of this is the legal expense incurred on the purchase of a building. Insurance cost is not capitalized in the balance sheet because it is a recurring expense that is necessary to preserve rather than enhance an asset’s usefulness.

One of the most common examples of non-operating expenses is interest expense. This is because while interest is the cost of borrowing money from a creditor or a bank, they are not generating any operating income. Though, these latter types of expenditures are reported as expenses when they are depreciated by businesses that use accrual-basis accounting- as most large businesses and all C corporations do.

An expense is a cost that is “paid” or “lithuania”, usually in exchange for something of value. “Expenses of the table” are expenses for dining, refreshments, a feast, etc. An expense account is also critical for staying organized and helping you budget. When you separate your business’s expenses, you get a better idea of which expenses are constant and which are intermittent. That way, you can predict future expenses when creating your budget. While reading the above list, you may have wondered about the difference between expenses and liabilities.

Deduction of business expenses under the United States tax code

It must be paid (4) in carrying on (meaning not prior to the start of a business or in creating it) (5) a trade or business activity. To qualify as a trade or business activity, it must be continuous and regular, and profit must be the primary motive. Accrued expenses are not meant to be permanent; they are meant to be temporary records that take the place of a true transaction in the short-term. Every accrued expense must have a reversing entry; without the reversing entry, a company risks duplicating transactions by recording both the actual invoice when it gets paid as well as the accrued expense.

This allows you to have full oversight over the way your business is spending money. However, to make money you have to spend money, or so the old saying why compliance is the most important part of business today goes. As such, business owners need to be aware of their business expenses. The best way to do that is through organizing your accounting books.

At that time, this amount would be recorded as a prepaid rent asset account. Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is the costs incurred while acquiring raw materials and then turning them into finished goods. COGS, however, does not include selling and administrative costs as incurred by your whole company, nor does it include interest expense or loss on extraordinary items. In contrast, expenses in accounting are used for determining profit. To calculate your business’s profit, your expenses would simply be subtracted from your income. It is important to note that not all expenditures are considered actual expenses in this case.

Please do not copy, reproduce, modify, distribute or disburse without express consent from Sage. These articles and related content is provided as a general guidance for informational purposes only. Accordingly, Sage does not provide advice per the information included.

One of the most reviewed accounts in accounting is the expense account. Expenses are any money spent by a business, so naturally they’re very important to keep track of. Understanding business expense categories helps you with your expense accounts. If you’re looking to get more organized with your books, it’s time to start getting involved with your expense accounts. Even if something qualifies as an expense, it is not necessarily deductible. Accrued expenses are recognized by debiting the appropriate expense account and crediting an accrued liability account.

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

Meaning businesses can become significantly more or less profitable with minor adjustments. Variable expenses are costs that change depending on the amount of revenue generated. An example of a variable expense would be the cost of goods sold. As the company sells more products, the cost of goods sold increases.

This lets you view your expenses at a glance, making it easy to track costs. In both personal and corporate contexts, expense management contributes to financial stability and resilience. It helps individuals and businesses weather unexpected expenses, emergencies, or economic downturns. By establishing sound financial habits and practices, individuals can build a strong foundation for their future. Similarly, organizations with effective expense management have better cash flow management, which enhances their ability to invest, expand, and adapt to changing market conditions.

The total revenue minus expenses determines the net profit of a company. Expense accounts are considered temporary accounts in the accounting world. The  concept of the expense account can be abused, either by spending more funds than would be required by a prudent person, or by receiving advances and not using the cash on behalf of the business.


Non-deductible expenses are ones which cannot be subtracted from income. Variable expenses, however, are those which directly depend on how much a company is selling. For example, employee wages which may increase should they be required to work more hours.

Popular terms

Depending on the financial statement format, the costs might be categorized in different subcategories like selling and general administrative. Regardless how they are categorized, the total expenses are calculated and subtracted from the total revenues to calculate the net income for the period. A prepaid expense is a type of asset on the balance sheet that results from a business making advanced payments for goods or services to be received in the future. Prepaid expenses are initially recorded as assets, but their value is expensed over time onto the income statement. Unlike conventional expenses, the business will receive something of value from the prepaid expense over the course of several accounting periods.

Some topics include what an expense is, if expenses can be a good thing, and much more. GoCardless helps you automate payment collection, cutting down on the amount of admin your team needs to deal with when chasing invoices. Find out how GoCardless can help you with ad hoc payments or recurring payments. Organizations need to insure their assets against a range of adversities, such as the outbreak of fire, earthquakes, theft, and diseases. Printing and stationery expense is an administrative expense for the vast majority of organizations. Expenses are the cost of various resources that are consumed in running a business.

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