Purposes of Providing Depreciation

  1. To keep capital intact : It will be evident that one of the effects of providing for depreciation on an asset is to retain in the business out of the profits in each year, an amount equal to the proportion of the cost of the asset employed in the business that has run off, estimated on the basis of the period of its working life and its scrap value. Thus, the original capital of the entity, assuming that all profits have been withdrawn and losses, if any, made good, will be intact. If, on the contrary, depreciation had not been charged, the net income would have been overstated over the years of the life of the asset, and if the same was withdrawn or distributed as dividends, the business would have no funds for the replacement of the asset.
  2.  To ascertain cost accurately : Unless a proper charge on account of depreciation is included in the Profit and Loss Account, the true cost of manufacture of different products will not be ascertained. This is because depreciation is as much a charge against revenue as any other expenditure and must be included in accounts irrespective of the fact whether the final result of a working is profit or loss.
  3.  To charge initial costs against earnings : The cost of a machine less its scrap value can, in effect, be regarded as the price for use of the machine paid in advance for the period it will be rendering service. According to this view unless an appropriate part of this price is charged to the profits of the business each year, the profit earned on its working will not be correctly ascertained. The object of depreciation accounting thus is to determine on a scientific basis, the proportion of the cost of a machine which must be charged in the accounts of each year during which the machine will be used. Depreciation is an expense incurred for earning profit, which is similar to the hire of an asset, the only difference being that in one case the amount is paid to an outsider while, in the other, it is kept in the entity itself. Therefore, each accounting period must be charged a fair proportion of the cost of fixed assets as the price for their use, and the charge should not be contingent on profits being earned. Accordingly, depreciation is a charge against profits and not an appropriation out of profits.
  4.  To prepare true and fair statements : Unless depreciation is provided, the assets will be shown at an amount higher than their true value and the profit shown will be more than the real profit. In other words, the Balance Sheet and the Profit and Loss Account will not be true and fair.

Depreciation should not be confused with any fluctuation in the value of fixed assets. The market price of an asset at the end of a year may be either more or less than its book value. It would be the result of a rise or a fall in the price level, a factor over which the business has no control. Such fluctuation in the value of assets may or may not be taken into account, for fixing the sale price of the articles manufactured, but these must be totally ignored for computing the amount of depreciation chargeable to the Profit and Loss Account.

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