How Accumulated Amortization Differs From Depreciation?


The amount of recorded amortization expenditure for an intangible asset is known as accumulated amortization. In other words, it’s the number of costs allocated to the purchase during its useful life.

A lot of people need to correct depreciation with amortization. Although the concepts are similar, amortization is used for intangible assets like patents, and depreciation is used for tangible assets like fixed assets.

Both intangible and Fixedassets are capitalized when acquired and reflected on the balance sheet. No charges are initially reported on their acquisition dates. Instead, the expenses of the assets are spread out throughout their useful lives. Since fees are recognized throughout the period that they contribute to generating revenues, this cost allocation approach follows the matching principle.

The book value of the intangible assets listed on the balance sheet at historical cost is decreased using the cumulative amortization account, which is a counter-asset account. As a result, the book value of the assets is often shown after the sum of intangible assets and then cumulative depreciation.


Alan’s Engineering produces software solutions for engineering organizations. It has various patents, copyrights, and registered trademarks for its work. This year, a new project that cost $20,000 was finished, and it received a patent with a 20-year lifespan.

Alan will subtract amortization expenditure and cumulative credit amortization for $1,000 after the first year (total purchase price divided by useful life in years). Then, Alan will record the current amortization expenditure and total expense in this journal entry each year throughout the asset’s life. Each year, the updated cumulative total will be presented on the balance sheet, and the current expenditure will be on the income. 


Depreciation and amortization have many similarities. Three alternative methodologies can be used to compute amortization. How they may be estimated and documented is on the financial records.

Regardless of the techniques utilized, it is critical to comprehend the intangible asset’s use, residual value, and influence on actual production and cost of distribution.

  • The straight-line method

Similar to the straight-line technique of depreciation. The overall amortization cost is calculated, and the time horizon is divided by that amount. Resulting in an equitable, steady deterioration of the intangible asset

  • Accelerated Method

This method uses a weighted average approach, which is higher in the early years and decreases with time. Its foundation is the economic principle known as the law of diminishing marginal utility. 

Gains were smaller than those made the previous year, as they are every year.

  • The units of production technique

Divides the cost according to how much this intangible asset contributed to creating the actual units.


Accumulated amortization is a valuable tool for determining the value of intangible assets and their use to the company. It’s essential to keep in mind, nevertheless, that not all intangible assets may be amortized. Take patents and license agreements as an example. These techniques assist in assessing a company’s competitive advantage and how it effectively communicates its financial results to its shareholders.