Financial Reporting

Tangible non-current assets

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Tangible non-current assets

Tangible non-current assets, often referred to as long-term assets or fixed assets, are essential components of a business’s operations and strategic capabilities. These assets have a physical substance, are held for extended periods, and play a crucial role in generating revenue and supporting a company’s operations. Effective management and accounting for tangible non-current assets are vital for maintaining financial health, optimizing resource allocation, and ensuring compliance with accounting standards. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to tangible non-current assets, covering their identification, valuation, depreciation, and disposal, along with practical examples and numerical illustrations.

Understanding Tangible Non-Current Assets

Tangible non-current assets are physical assets that a company expects to use for more than one accounting period or operational cycle. These assets are not intended for immediate resale and are integral to the company’s long-term operations. They include items such as property, plant, and equipment (PP&E), land, buildings, machinery, vehicles, furniture, and fixtures. Tangible non-current assets differ from current assets, such as inventory or accounts receivable, which are typically consumed, sold, or converted into cash within a short period.

Characteristics of Tangible Non-Current Assets

The key characteristics of tangible non-current assets include:

Physical Existence:

Tangible non-current assets have a physical form and can be touched, seen, or felt. They possess a physical substance that distinguishes them from intangible assets, such as patents or trademarks.

Long-Term Use:

These assets are held and used over multiple accounting periods or operational cycles. They are not acquired for short-term gains or immediate resale.

Strategic Importance:

Tangible non-current assets are critical to a company’s operations and contribute to its long-term success. They support the production of goods or delivery of services and often represent significant investments.

Limited Liquidity:

Tangible non-current assets are relatively illiquid, meaning they cannot be easily converted into cash. They may require time and effort to sell or dispose of, and their market values may differ from their book values.

Depreciable Nature:

Most tangible non-current assets are subject to depreciation, reflecting their decrease in value over time due to wear and tear, obsolescence, or technological advancements.

Examples of Tangible Non-Current Assets

Tangible non-current assets encompass a wide range of physical assets used in various industries. Some common examples include:


Parcels of land owned by a company, which may be used for operations, development, or investment purposes.


Structures owned or occupied by a company, including offices, factories, warehouses, or retail spaces.

Machinery and Equipment:

Physical assets used in production or service delivery, such as manufacturing equipment, vehicles, computers, or furniture.


Cars, trucks, or other modes of transportation used for business operations or transportation of goods.


Physical structures supporting operations, such as roads, bridges, power generation facilities, or communication networks.

Leasehold Improvements:

Improvements made to leased properties, such as renovations or additions, that benefit the lessee.

Natural Resources:

Assets derived from nature, such as timber, minerals, or oil and gas deposits, which are extracted and used in operations.

Intangible Assets with Physical Substance:

Certain intangible assets with a physical form, such as software or patents, may be classified as tangible non-current assets if they meet specific criteria.

Identifying and Classifying Tangible Non-Current Assets

Identifying and classifying tangible non-current assets is a critical step in financial reporting and accounting. Companies must assess whether an asset meets the criteria for recognition as a non-current asset and determine its appropriate classification. The following factors are typically considered:

Expected Useful Life:

The asset’s expected useful life should extend beyond one accounting period or operational cycle. This assessment considers the nature of the asset, its intended use, and industry norms.

Intent and Ability to Hold:

The company must intend to hold and use the asset for the long term. This intention is assessed based on management’s plans, operational needs, and strategic objectives.

Physical Substance:

The asset must have a physical existence and provide long-term benefits. Intangible assets without a physical form are typically classified separately.

Generation of Future Economic Benefits:

The asset should have the potential to generate future economic benefits for the company. This may include revenue generation, cost savings, or strategic advantages.

Valuation of Tangible Non-Current Assets

Valuing tangible non-current assets involves determining their monetary value for financial reporting purposes. The valuation of these assets is crucial for presenting a true and fair view of a company’s financial position and performance. Different valuation methods are applied depending on the nature of the asset and the context of the valuation:


The cost of a tangible non-current asset refers to the amount paid to acquire or produce it. This includes the purchase price, transaction costs, and any directly attributable costs necessary to bring the asset to its intended use. Cost is typically the initial valuation basis for most tangible non-current assets.


In certain cases, tangible non-current assets may be revalued to reflect their fair market value. This involves obtaining professional valuations or using market indicators to determine the asset’s current worth. Revaluations can result in increases or decreases in the asset’s carrying amount.

Depreciated Replacement Cost:

This valuation method considers the cost to replace a depreciated asset, taking into account its age, condition, and expected remaining useful life. It is often used for assets with long lives, such as infrastructure or natural resources.

Net Realizable Value:

For assets held for sale or disposal, the valuation may be based on the net amount expected to be realized from their disposal, considering any costs associated with the sale or disposal process.

Depreciation of Tangible Non-Current Assets

Depreciation is the systematic allocation of the cost of a tangible non-current asset over its useful life. It recognizes that assets lose value over time due to wear and tear, obsolescence, or technological advancements. Depreciation is a critical concept in accounting for tangible non-current assets as it reflects the consumption of the asset’s economic benefits and provides a more accurate representation of a company’s financial performance and position.

Depreciation Methods

Several depreciation methods can be applied, each allocating the asset’s cost differently over its useful life:

Straight-Line Depreciation:

Under this method, an equal amount is expensed each period. It is calculated by dividing the asset’s cost (less its residual value) by its expected useful life. This method is simple and commonly used for assets with a constant rate of consumption.


A machine with a cost of $10,000, a residual value of $1,000, and an expected useful life of 5 years:

Depreciation expense per year = ($10,000 – $1,000) / 5 years = $1,800 per year

Declining Balance Depreciation:

This method applies a constant rate to the asset’s declining book value. It results in higher depreciation expenses in the early years and lower expenses in later years. The rate is determined by dividing 1 by the expected useful life and multiplying it by a depreciation factor (e.g., 2 for double-declining balance).


Using the same machine as above, with a double-declining balance method:

Depreciation rate = (1 / 5 years) x 2 = 40%
Depreciation expense in year 1 = 40% x $10,000 = $4,000
Depreciation expense in year 2 = 40% x ($10,000 – $4,000) = $2,400

Sum-of-the-Years’-Digits (SYD):

SYD allocates depreciation based on the sum of the years of the asset’s useful life. A fraction is calculated by dividing the remaining useful life by the sum of the years’ digits. This method results in higher depreciation expenses in the early years.


Using the same machine, with a 5-year useful life:

Depreciation rate in year 1 = (5 years remaining / 15 (sum of 1 to 5)) = 1/3
Depreciation expense in year 1 = 1/3 x $10,000 = $3,333.33

Units of Production:

This method bases depreciation on the asset’s usage or output. A depreciation rate is determined by dividing the asset’s cost (less residual value) by its expected total units of production. This method is suitable for assets with variable usage patterns.


A machine with a cost of $20,000, a residual value of $2,000, and an expected total output of 10,000 units:

Depreciation rate per unit = ($20,000 – $2,000) / 10,000 units = $1.80 per unit
If 2,000 units are produced in year 1:
Depreciation expense in year 1 = 2,000 units x $1.80 = $3,600

Factors Affecting Depreciation

Several factors influence the depreciation of tangible non-current assets:

Useful Life:

The expected period over which the asset will be used or its economic benefits consumed. It considers the asset’s durability, technological advancements, and industry norms.

Residual Value:

The estimated value of the asset at the end of its useful life. It represents the salvage or disposal value that can be realized from the asset.


The initial cost of the asset, including any directly attributable costs necessary to bring it to its intended use.


The potential for the asset to become obsolete due to technological changes, market trends, or regulatory requirements.

Maintenance and Repairs:

The level of maintenance and repairs can impact the asset’s useful life and residual value. Proper maintenance may extend the asset’s life, while significant repairs may necessitate adjustments to the depreciation rate.

Accounting for Tangible Non-Current Assets

Accounting for tangible non-current assets involves recognizing, measuring, and disclosing these assets in a company’s financial statements. The following are key considerations in accounting for tangible non-current assets:

Initial Recognition:

Tangible non-current assets are recognized in the balance sheet at their cost or fair value, depending on the context of their acquisition or production.

Subsequent Measurement:

After initial recognition, tangible non-current assets are typically measured at cost less accumulated depreciation and any impairment losses. Accumulated depreciation represents the total depreciation expense recognized since the asset’s acquisition.

Depreciation Expense:

The depreciation expense for a period is recognized in the income statement, reducing the reported profit for that period. It reflects the consumption of the asset’s economic benefits.


Tangible non-current assets are reviewed for impairment when there are indicators of potential loss in value. If the asset’s carrying amount exceeds its recoverable amount (higher of fair value less costs to sell or value in use), an impairment loss is recognized in the income statement.
– Disclosures: Comprehensive disclosures about tangible non-current assets are provided in the financial statements, including information on cost, accumulated depreciation, residual values, useful lives, depreciation methods, and any impairments.

Managing Tangible Non-Current Assets

Effective management of tangible non-current assets involves strategies to optimize their utilization, maintenance, and disposal:

Asset Tracking and Monitoring:

Implement systems to track and monitor tangible non-current assets. This includes maintaining an asset register with details such as asset description, location, acquisition date, cost, and depreciation. Regular physical verification and audits ensure accurate records.

Maintenance and Repairs:

Establish a maintenance program to ensure proper care and maintenance of assets. Preventive maintenance can extend asset life, reduce unexpected breakdowns, and optimize performance.

Asset Utilization:

Optimize the utilization of tangible non-current assets to maximize their contribution to operations. This may involve efficient scheduling, capacity planning, and identifying opportunities for asset sharing or multi-purpose use.

Capital Expenditure Planning:

Develop a capital expenditure (CapEx) plan that aligns with the company’s strategic objectives. Assess the need for new assets, considering factors such as production capacity, technological advancements, and market demands.

Obsolescence Management:

Stay abreast of technological advancements and market trends to anticipate asset obsolescence. Plan for asset upgrades, replacements, or disposals to minimize the impact of obsolescence on operations.

Disposal and Retirement:

Establish policies and procedures for the disposal or retirement of tangible non-current assets. Consider the potential for salvage value or disposal costs and ensure proper removal of assets from the company’s records.

Disposal of Tangible Non-Current Assets

The disposal of tangible non-current assets involves removing them from a company’s operations and financial records. Disposal can occur through sale, trade-in, scrapping, or donation. The following considerations apply to the disposal process:

Removal from Records:

Tangible non-current assets that are disposed of are removed from the company’s asset register and financial records. This ensures that only active and usable assets are reflected in the company’s books.

Gain or Loss on Disposal:

The difference between the disposal proceeds (sale price or value received) and the asset’s carrying amount (book value) is recognized as a gain or loss in the income statement. A gain occurs when the disposal proceeds exceed the carrying amount, while a loss arises when the carrying amount exceeds the disposal proceeds.

Tax Implications:

The disposal of tangible non-current assets may have tax consequences. Companies should consider the tax treatment of gains or losses on disposal and ensure compliance with relevant tax regulations.

Environmental and Regulatory Considerations:

Comply with environmental and regulatory requirements related to asset disposal, especially for assets containing hazardous materials or those subject to specific disposal guidelines.

Example of Accounting for a Tangible Non-Current Asset

Let’s consider an example of accounting for a tangible non-current asset over multiple periods:


A company purchases a machine for $50,000. The machine has an expected useful life of 10 years and a residual value of $5,000. The company uses the straight-line depreciation method.

Initial Recognition:

The machine is recognized in the balance sheet at its cost of $50,000.

Depreciation Calculation:

Depreciation expense per year = ($50,000 – $5,000) / 10 years = $4,500 per year

Accumulated Depreciation and Carrying Amount:

In the first year:

Accumulated depreciation = $4,500, Carrying amount = $50,000 – $4,500 = $45,500

In the second year:

Accumulated depreciation = $9,000 ($4,500 per year for two years), Carrying amount = $50,000 – $9,000 = $41,000
This pattern continues until the end of the machine’s useful life.

Income Statement Impact:

Each year, a depreciation expense of $4,500 is recognized in the income statement, reducing the reported profit for that period.

Balance Sheet Presentation:

The balance sheet presents the machine’s cost, accumulated depreciation, and carrying amount. For example, at the end of year 3:
| Machine | |
| Cost | $50,000 |
| Accumulated Depreciation | $13,500 |
| Carrying Amount | $36,500 |


If the machine is sold for $10,000 at the end of year 7:
Gain on disposal = Disposal proceeds – Carrying amount = $10,000 – $22,500 (carrying amount after 7 years of depreciation) = -$12,500 loss.
The loss on disposal is recognized in the income statement, and the machine is removed from the asset register and financial records.

Best Practices and Considerations

When managing and accounting for tangible non-current assets, consider the following best practices and considerations:

Regular Review and Updates:

Periodically review and update asset records, useful lives, and residual values. This ensures that depreciation charges accurately reflect the consumption of economic benefits.

Consistency and Comparability:

Apply depreciation methods and accounting policies consistently across similar assets and periods. This enables comparability of financial statements over time and across different entities.

Impairment Testing:

Conduct regular impairment tests to identify potential losses in asset values. Impairment losses should be recognized promptly to provide a true and fair view of the asset’s value.

Asset Management Systems:

Utilize specialized software or asset management systems to streamline asset tracking, depreciation calculations, and reporting. These tools can enhance accuracy and efficiency in managing tangible non-current assets.

Compliance with Accounting Standards:

Adhere to relevant accounting standards, such as International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) or Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), for recognition, measurement, and disclosure of tangible non-current assets.

Environmental and Sustainability Considerations:

Consider the environmental impact of asset disposal and seek sustainable alternatives. This may involve recycling, repurposing, or responsible disposal methods.


Tangible non-current assets are fundamental to a company’s operations and long-term success. Effective management and accounting for these assets are crucial for financial reporting, decision-making, and strategic planning. By understanding the characteristics, valuation, depreciation, and disposal of tangible non-current assets, businesses can optimize their utilization, maintain financial health, and ensure compliance with accounting standards. Accurate financial reporting of tangible non-current assets contributes to transparency, accountability, and informed decision-making for stakeholders.