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    How do I record the disposal of assets?

    The disposal of assets involves eliminating assets from the accounting records. This is needed to completely remove all traces of an asset from the balance sheet (known as derecognition). An asset disposal may require the recording of a gain or loss on the transaction in the reporting period when the disposal occurs.

    For the purposes of this discussion, we will assume that the asset being disposed of is a fixed asset.

    The overall concept for the accounting for asset disposals is to reverse both the recorded cost of the fixed asset and the corresponding amount of accumulated depreciation. Any remaining difference between the two is recognized as either a gain or a loss. The gain or loss is calculated as the net disposal proceeds, minus the asset’s carrying value. 

    Here are the options for accounting for the disposal of assets:

    • No proceeds, fully depreciated. Debit all accumulated depreciation and credit the fixed asset.
    • Loss on sale. Debit cash for the amount received, debit all accumulated depreciation, debit the loss on sale of asset account, and credit the fixed asset.
    • Gain on sale. Debit cash for the amount received, debit all accumulated depreciation, credit the fixed asset, and credit the gain on sale of asset account.

    A proper fixed asset disposal is of some importance from the perspective of maintaining a clean balance sheet, so that the recorded balances of fixed assets and accumulated depreciation properly reflect the assets actually owned by a business.

    Example of Asset Disposal

    For example, ABC International buys a machine for $50,000 and recognizes $5,000 of depreciation per year over the following ten years. At that time, the machine is fully depreciated, ABC gives it away, and records the following entry.

      Debit Credit
    Accumulated depreciation 50,000  
         Machine asset   50,000

    ABC International sells a $100,000 machine for $35,000 in cash, after having compiled $70,000 of accumulated depreciation. The entry is:

      Debit Credit
    Cash 35,000  
    Accumulated depreciation 70,000  
         Gain on asset disposal   5,000
         Machine asset   100,000

    ABC International sells another machine that had originally cost it $40,000 for $25,000 in cash. The company had compiled $10,000 of accumulated depreciation on the machine. The entry is:

      Debit Credit
    Cash 25,000  
    Accumulated depreciation 10,000  
    Loss on asset disposal 5,000  
         Machine asset   40,000

    Related Topics

    Fixed asset impairment
    Overview of depreciation
    What is a disposal account?
    What is salvage value?
    When do I derecognize an asset?

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