OBJECTIVES Tangible fixed assets and depreciation The aims of this by ramhood16

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									  3          Tangible fixed assets and

               The aims of this chapter are to enable students to:
               s   appreciate the significance of capital expenditure for the measurement
                   of profit;
               s   understand the reasons for depreciation;
               s   explain the judgement needed to depreciate fixed assets and the methodology
               s   apply the main accounting rules for depreciation; and
               s   operate a simple management system to control fixed assets.

             Capital expenditure is the investment of business funds in fixed assets that are
             intended to make a contribution to profit in more than one accounting year. The
             profit figure would be distorted if the cost of a machine with a five-year economic
             life was written off to profit and loss account in Year 1, allowing the following four
             years a ‘free ride’. It is fairer to capitalise the cost of the machine and treat it as an
             asset in the balance sheet, so that depreciation can spread the cost over the five-
             year period. Thus capital expenditure relieves the profit and loss account of the
             cost of the asset in the first year of life, but charges that year a proportion of the
             cost as depreciation. Some managers may argue for capitalisation of non-capital
             expenditure in order to improve profit in the current year, so rules for capitalisa-
             tion have been developed.
                Capital expenditure is money spent to purchase or add to the value of fixed
             assets, to extend or improve the tasks which they can perform, and thus increase
             their earning capacity. Revenue expenditure that is charged in the profit and loss
             account concerns money spent in the normal course of the business to operate or
             maintain the earning capacity of the capital assets. The amount that can be capi-
             talised includes the cost of the machine, delivery expenses, legal costs associated
             with the purchase, inspection, demolition to make way for a new machine, the con-

Finance and Accounting for Non-Specialist Students

                    struction of foundations and so forth, and the cost of training staff to operate the
                    new machine. In some instances a business will use its own labour force to install
                    machinery, and this cost should also be capitalised. The cost of bringing a second-
                    hand machine to working condition is part of the capital cost of that machine.
                    Later expenditure to reduce running costs or increase the range of operations of a
                    machine can also be capitalised – repairs must be treated differently from improve-
                    ments. In the case of a new building or a factory which may take several years to
                    complete, the cost of interest on funds borrowed to finance the asset can be capi-
                    talised as part of the cost of the asset. Mansfield Brewery plc capitalised £255 000 of
                    such interest in 1997 (see Note 10 to the accounts in the last chapter page 19).

    TASK 3.1        A company is reorganising its computing facilities, and the following costs have been
                    incurred. Make a reasoned judgement to allocate the costs as capital or revenue items:
                            (a)   Cost of new terminals                                        75 000
                            (b)   Cost of new software                                         45 000
                            (c)   Servicing and repairs to printers                            25 000
                            (d)   Cost of redecorating the computer room                       12 000
                            (e)   Training staff to use new hardware                           17 000
                            (f)   New attachment for printers to extend the colour range and
                                  typeface available                                             4 000

                    Judgement must be applied to consider the cost of acquiring, extending or improving
                    the assets. Only items (c) and (d) concern maintenance.


s    Rationale and theory
                    To an economist, depreciation is a matter of valuation, because as a fixed asset
                    ages, its value falls. The fall in value is the result of physical wear and tear, the pas-
                    sage of time with a lease, or obsolescence. As the value of a machine is reduced
                    because technical advances bring new and more efficient machines to compete, or
                    because demand falls for the product of the machine, it is said to be obsolescent.
                    The fall in value in a year is the cost of holding the machine for that year which
                    should be charged to the profit and loss account.
                       To an accountant, less willing to rely on valuation, depreciation is a matter of
                    allocation, as the cost of the asset is spread over the years of its useful economic
                    life in order to measure a true profit each year. A management accountant might
                    consider depreciation to be the amount which must be charged to a department
                    for the use of the machine, perhaps on a monthly or even hourly rate. So deprecia-
                    tion is significant for profit measurement under the matching concept, since it
                    reflects in profit the cost of using a fixed asset that year expressed as the amount of
                                                               3 s Tangible fixed assets and depreciation

          the total economic benefits expected from the asset that was consumed by the
          business in that year.
             Alternatively, depreciation is important as a means whereby capital is main-
          tained. It is the amount set aside out of profit to replace funds tied up in the asset
          which have been used up during the year. This is not a savings scheme for the
          replacement of the asset, since machines are rarely replaced by the same thing,
          because over time, technological advances bring change. Depreciation will ensure
          that the capital invested in the business is replaced out of profit as the asset
          financed by that capital is used up.

EXAMPLE   John wins £40 000 on the lottery, and uses the money to purchase an articulated
          truck since he wants to go into business as a long-haul lorry driver. His balance
          sheet on 1 January 19x1 shows capital invested £40 000 and assets £40 000. The
          vehicle is expected to have a working life of eight years, so depreciation will be
          £40 000 ÷ 8 = £5000 each year.
             During the first year John has receipts of £200 000 and costs of £180 000. His
          profit and loss account shows:
                Sales revenue                       200 000    (received in cash)
                Costs                               180 000    (paid in cash)
                Surplus                              20 000    (cash balance)
                Depreciation                          5 000
                Profit                               15 000    (all paid out as dividend)

          John’s balance sheet at the end of Year 1 will be:
                Fixed asset                          40 000
                less Depreciation                     5 000
                Net book value                       35 000
                Cash (£20 000 – £15 000)              5 000
                Net assets                           40 000

                Capital                              40 000

          After eight years of trading, assuming the profit and loss account is the same each
          year, the balance sheet will disclose:

                Fixed asset at cost                                                    40 000
                less Depreciation to date                                              40 000
                Net book value (the lorry is now worthless)                                nil
                Cash (£5000 × 8)                                                       40 000
                Net assets                                                             40 000

                Capital                                                                40 000

Finance and Accounting for Non-Specialist Students

                    John’s capital has been maintained because he has the same amount of cash as at
                    the start of his business. Profit was reduced each year by the provision for depreci-
                    ation, which reduced the profit available for dividend. If no depreciation had
                    been charged against profit John would have spent his supposed profit of £20 000
                    each year, and would have had no cash at all at the end of Year 8. John can now
                    decide on his future business policy: he can purchase a new vehicle, or go into
                    some other business, or retire – his capital is intact. One problem, however, is that
                    the depreciation was based on historical cost, and has maintained the capital sum
                    in money terms but not the purchasing power of that sum. After eight years of
                    inflation, even at 2.5 per cent per annum, John will not be able to purchase a
                    replacement vehicle for £40 000.

s    The methodology
                    Depreciation depends on judgement to estimate at the beginning of an asset’s life
                    the length of life and the scrap value (residual value) of the asset, if any, at the end
                    of that life. Estimates are often wrong! It is the responsibility of the directors to
                    select a method of depreciation which is most appropriate for the company con-
                    cerned. Several methods are available for selection.

                    The straight-line method
                    This method is widely used in practice being simple to operate. The cost of the
                    asset less the residual value is divided by the years of life of the asset in order to
                    give an equal charge for depreciation each year:

                                             cost – residual value
                                                                   = annual depreciation
                                             useful economic life
    TASK 3.2

                    A new machine is purchased for £80 000, with delivery charges £1000, and provision of
                    foundations by the company’s own labour £4000. The machinery is estimated to have
                    a useful economic life of five years, and a residual value of £5000. How would this
                    machine appear in the balance sheet at the end of the second year of its life and at the
                    end of Year 5, using the straight-line method of depreciation?

                            (Cost – residual value) ÷ life
                            (£85 000 – £5000) ÷ 5 = £16 000 per year

                            Year 2 Balance sheet entry   Machine at cost             85 000
                                                         less depreciation to date   32 000 (£16 000 × 2)
                                                         Net book value              53 000

                            Year 5 Balance sheet entry   Machine at cost             85 000
                                                         less Depreciation to date   80 000 (£16 000 × 5)
                                                         Equal to scrap value         5 000

                                                                  3 s Tangible fixed assets and depreciation

           The reducing-balance method
           This method writes off the same percentage each year from an ever-decreasing bal-
           ance. For example, a machine costing £80 000 with a percentage write-off rate of
           15 per cent would be depreciated as follows:
                  Cost                                             80 000
                  Depreciation Year 1 (£80 000 × 0.15)            *12 000     (profit and loss)
                  Remaining balance                                68 000     (balance sheet)
                  Depreciation Year 2 (£68 000 × 0.15)            *10 200
                  Remaining balance                                57 800
                  Depreciation Year 3 £57 800 × 0.15)              *8 670
                  Remaining balance                                49 130

           The calculation continues until the asset reaches the end of its life, when the
           remaining balance is written off to profit and loss, net of any cash received for the
           scrap value of the machine.
              *This method charges more depreciation in early years and less in later years
           (see asterisked amounts) to compensate for heavy repair bills, but this may distort
           the true cost of using the machine and adversely affect replacement decisions. It is
           possible to use a mathematical formula to calculate the rate to apply to each situa-
           tion of cost, residual value and life, but this is never used in practice, as a rate is
           arbitrarily selected and applied to a group of similar assets.

           The machine hour method
           With this method, cost less residual value is divided by the estimated number of
           hours the machine will work throughout its life. This gives an hourly rate which
           can be applied to the hours worked by the machine during a month or a year, as
           the charge for depreciation. This method relates the charge in the profit and loss
           account to usage of the machine rather than the passage of time.

TASK 3.3   A machine is purchased for £85 000 with an estimated residual value of £5000. The
           machine has an estimated working life of 20 000 hours. In Year 1 it works 3000 hours
           and in Year 2 it works for 8000 hours. Calculate the depreciation charge for Years 1 and
           2, and the balance sheet entry for the machine at the end of Year 2.

           (£85 000 – £5000) ÷ 20 000 hours = £4 per hour

           Year 1 3000 hours x £4 = 12 000 depreciation
           Year 2 8000 hours x £4 = 32 000 depreciation

           Balance sheet at end of Year 2        Plant at cost                     85 000
                                                 less Depreciation to date         44 000
                                                 Net book value                    41 000

Finance and Accounting for Non-Specialist Students

                    But what happens if the machine is not used in Year 3 and falls in value due to obso-
                    lescence? Because depreciation is now a matter of system, further checks and rules
                    are needed to account for changes when estimates are later proved to be wrong.

s    Extra rules for special situations
                    Financial Reporting Standard No. 15 (FRS 15) contains some extra rules for applica-
                    tion when the estimates built into depreciation calculations prove to be wrong. In
                    practice, managers select the method they wish to use and apply it consistently as a
                    matter of accounting policy. Assets are grouped together and a standard life is
                    applied to the group or a percentage is arbitrarily selected for the reducing-balance
                    method. When an asset is scrapped or sold, the difference between its book value
                    and the cash received is written off to the profit and loss account. Land is not depre-
                    ciated, so with property the cost must be analysed between the land and the
                    building on the land, and the building cost only is subject to depreciation.

                    1 Changes in value during the life of the asset. If an asset – say, a building – increases in
                      value during its working life, the new value should be shown in the balance sheet,
                      and the difference between the old net book value and the new value shown as a
                      revaluation reserve in the balance sheet. The new value is depreciated over the
                      remaining years of the asset’s life. If the asset subsequently falls in value, the deficit
                      is written off, first against the revaluation reserve for that asset, and if that is not
                      enough, then the remainder is written off to the profit and loss account. Once again
                      the new value is depreciated over the remaining years of the asset’s life.
                    2 Extension of the life expectancy of the asset. If a machine bought in 19x1 with an
                      expected life of five years, is reviewed in Year 3 (19x3) and found to have an
                      expected life of six more years at that point, the net book value at Year 3 is
                      depreciated over the next six years. The asset would usually also be revalued at
                      this point where its life changes.
                    3 Additional expenditure. If, part way through its life, extra fitments are added to a
                      machine, this extra capital expenditure is added to the net book value and
                      depreciated over the remaining life of the asset if it has that same life
                      expectancy. If a new roof with a ten-year life is put on a building with a fifty-
                      year life, the roof is treated as a separate asset and depreciated over ten years.
                    4 Premature retirement. If a machine with an eight-year life is found to be obsolete
                      and worthless at the end of four years, the book value at that point is written off
                      to the profit and loss account. Depreciation over the last four years has been
                      insufficient, and profit in those years has been overstated, so this error of judge-
                      ment must be set right at once.
                    5 Assets which work on. If a machine which is expected to have a life of five years is
                      still able to work at the end of that period, it should then be revalued and the
                      new value depreciated over the further expected life of the asset. The revalua-
                      tion surplus is posted to a revaluation reserve. Normally the periodic review of
                      the asset’s life and value would detect this situation before Year 5.

                                                                 3 s Tangible fixed assets and depreciation

 EXAMPLE   A company purchased a complex item of plant for £950 000 on 1 January 1996.
           The plant was expected to have a life of seven years, and a residual value of
           £40 000 when taken out of service on 31 December 2002. The following events
           have been aranged to take place every two years:

           s On 1 January 1998 an extension to the machine was purchased for £75 000. The
             life and scrap value of the machine was not affected by this item.
           s On 1 January 2000 the life of the machine was reviewed and it was expected to
             continue to operate until 31 December 2009, but with no scrap value.
           s On 1 January 2002 the machine underwent a major overhaul costing £20 000,
             and, as a result, was revalued at £440 000. Life expectancy remained the same,
             with no scrap value.
           s On 1 January 2004 the machine was considered to be obsolete and it was sold
             for £200 000.

           You are required to calculate and explain the amounts of depreciation charged to
           the profit and loss account in respect of this machine for the years 1996 to 2003.

           Cost of asset                                                                       950 000
           less Depreciation 1996 + 1997 [((950 – 40) ÷ 7) × 2]                                260 000
           Net book value at 31 December 1997                                                  690 000
           plus Extra investment at 1 January 1998 (add to net book value)                      75 000
           Net book value at 1 January 1998                                                    765 000
           less Depreciation 1998 + 1999 (765 – 40 ÷ 5 × 2) (recalculate depreciation)         290 000
           Net book value at 1 January 2000                                                    475 000
           less Depreciation 2000 + 2001 (475 ÷ 10 × 2) (life extended/no scrap value)          95 000
           Net book value at 1 January 2002 (overhaul not capitalised)                         380 000
           Revaluation reserve (plant brought up to new value)                                  60 000*
           New value                                                                           440 000
           less Depreciation 2002 + 2003 (440 ÷ 8 × 2) (depreciation recalculated)             110 000
                                                                                               330 000
           Sold 1 January 2004                                                                 200 000
           Deficit                                                                             130 000
           less Transfer from revaluation reserve                                               60 000*
           Loss written off to profit and loss account                                         £70 000


           Control is facilitated if appropriate information is provided for managers. Most
           businesses will own a number of fixed assets and in large organisations the control
           of this significant investment is vital to efficient operation. Management will need
           to be aware of the following information:

Finance and Accounting for Non-Specialist Students

                    (a)   the location of each asset;
                    (b)   the extent to which it is being used or lying idle;
                    (c)   the repairs which have been carried out on the asset and the cost of those repairs;
                    (d)   the expiry dates of any licences permitting the organisation to use the asset;
                    (e)   the cost of using the asset (e.g. running costs, wastage, breakdowns, etc.).

                    In addition, for management purposes further information is required as follows:

                    (f) the date of purchase;
                    (g) the name and address of the asset’s supplier; availability of spares;
                    (h) the cost of asset; the date and amount of any additions to the asset;
                    (i) the estimated useful economic life of the asset; when the life was last reviewed;
                    (j) the estimated scrap or resale value of the asset at the end of its useful
                        economic life;
                    (k) a description of the asset;
                    (l) a code number for the asset so that it can be found easily on a computerised system;
                    (m) the method of depreciation to be used for the asset;
                    (n) the accumulated depreciation of the asset; the net book value;
                    (o) details of the disposal of the asset when it has occurred;
                    (p) date and cost of last major overhaul;
                    (q) revaluation: date, amount, valuer.

                    This information is normally recorded in a fixed asset register. The efficiency of the
                    organisation can be greatly improved if the register is stored on a computer.
                    Specialist computer packages exist for the recording of an organisation’s fixed
                    assets, but much the same effect can be obtained by using a database programme,
                    particularly in smaller organisations or where the information is recorded within
                    each department.
                       In the context of a fixed asset register, each asset would be given a code number.
                    There would be a separate record on the computer file for each fixed asset, and
                    within each record there would be a field for each data item to be recorded. The
                    asset code would normally be used as the key field so that the record of any partic-
                    ular asset could be located easily.
                       The use of a computerised fixed asset register would allow the calculation of
                    depreciation to be automated and various managerial reports could be produced
                    showing, for example:

                    s the depreciation charge for the accounting period analysed by asset and by
                       department as required;
                    s a list of assets requiring servicing;
                    s a list of assets at a particular location;
                    s the extent of any repair expenditure on each asset;
                    s a list of assets continuing in use beyond their estimated useful economic life.

                                                                    3 s Tangible fixed assets and depreciation


            Capital expenditure is a significant item for every business, because it concerns the
            long-lived assets such as plant, buildings and vehicles, which are used to earn the
            profit. Expenditure that is capitalised is not charged to the profit and loss account in
            the year in which the money is spent, but spread over the economic life of the
            acquired asset by a provision for depreciation. Depreciation is significant for the mea-
            surement of a true profit, and also to maintain the capital invested in the business.
               Considerable judgement is required to calculate depreciation since the life span
            of the asset and its residual value are uncertain at the date of acquisition. There are
            several different methods whereby depreciation can spread the cost over the life of
            the asset but it is the responsibility of the board to select an appropriate method
            and use it consistently as an accounting policy. Assets are usually grouped together,
            and an arbitrary life applied to that group. Mansfield Brewery plc depreciates plant
            and equipment at rates varying from 3 per cent to 30 per cent. When setting the
            rate, the effect of obsolescence on the life of the asset must be considered.
               Such an important item as fixed assets must be controlled by managers, with a
            system designed to disclose information which will assist in that control process.


            Thirty-minute essay questions

            1 ‘The recognition of capital expenditure is significant for profit measurement.’ Discuss.

            2 Explain, with an example, the relationship between depreciation and the mainte-
              nance of capital.

            3 Explain the rules which have been developed to overcome the effect of uncertainty
              on depreciation calculations.

            4 You are to attend a managerial meeting to discuss the control of tangible fixed
              assets. In preparation for this meeting, list and justify ten items of information which
              would be helpful to managers when control of machinery is discussed.


        3.1 Bee Ltd depreciates plant using the straight-line method and an eight-year life.
            A machine was bought for £50 000 in 1992 and it was estimated to have a residual
            value of £6000. The machine was sold for £12 000 in 1997.

            Calculate the charge for depreciation in each year of the life of the machine.

Finance and Accounting for Non-Specialist Students

             3.2 Cee Ltd purchased a machine for £40 000 in 1992, and intended to use it for five years
                 by which time it would be worthless.

                    Calculate the charge for each year of the life of the machine using (a) the straight-line
                    method and (b) the reducing-balance method with a 30 per cent rate.

             3.3 (a) ABC Ltd is a medium-sized manufacturing business. The production manager is a
                 qualified mechanical and electrical engineer. At a recent management meeting he com-
                 mented as follows: ‘I cannot understand the need to charge depreciation against profit.
                 The cash has already been spent to buy the machine so all we need to do is save up for
                 a replacement’.

                    Draft a brief memorandum to the production manager to explain the concept of

                    (b) (i)    ABC Ltd invested £750 000 in a complex piece of plant on 1 January 1994.
                              This machinery was expected to have a life of eight years and a residual value
                               of £30 000 when taken out of service on 31 December 2001.
                         (ii) On 1 January 1996 the machine was fitted with a new attachment which
                               increased the range of operations it could perform. This attachment cost £60 000.
                         (iii) On 1 January 1997 the machine was revalued at £640 000 and was expected
                               to continue in operation until 31 December 2004 when it would be worthless.
                         (iv) The machine was sold for £250 000 on 31st December 1999.

                    Calculate and explain the amounts of depreciation charged to the profit and loss account
                    in respect of this machine for the years 1994 to 1999 using the straight-line method.


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