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    Accounting Dictionary

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    An expenditure is a payment in cash or barter credits, or the incurrence of a liability by an entity, in exchange for goods or services. Evidence of the documentation triggered by an expenditure is a sales receipt or an invoice. Organizations tend to maintain tight controls over expenditures, to keep from incurring losses.

    A capital expenditure is an expenditure for a high-value item that is to be recorded as a long-term asset. A business usually sets a capitalization limit (or cap limit for classifying expenditures as capital expenditures. A cap limit is established in order to keep an organization from recognizing low-cost items as fixed assets (which can be time consuming).

    An expenditure is not necessarily the same as an expense, since an expense represents the reduction in value of an asset, whereas an expenditure simply indicates the procurement of an asset. Thus, an expenditure covers a specific point in time, while an expense may be incurred over a much longer period of time. Effectively, there is no difference between the two terms when an expenditure automatically triggers the incurrence of an expense; for example, office supplies are typically charged to expense as soon as they are procured. Conversely, the advance payment of rent is an expenditure, but does not become expense until the period has passed to which the rent payment applies.