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    Accounting Standards Library
    Monday
    Apr012013

    What is a period cost?

    A period cost is any cost that cannot be capitalized into prepaid expenses, inventory, or fixed assets. A period cost is more closely associated with the passage of time than with a transactional event. Since a period cost is essentially always charged to expense at once, it may more appropriately be called a period expense.

    A period cost is charged to expense in the period incurred. This type of cost is not included within the cost of goods sold on the income statement. Instead, it is typically included within the selling and administrative expenses section of the income statement.

    Examples of period costs are:

    • Sales expenses
    • Advertising expenses
    • Travel and entertainment expenses
    • Commissions
    • Depreciation expense
    • General and administrative expenses
    • Executive salaries
    • Office rent
    • Interest expense (that is not capitalized)

    The preceding list of period costs should make it clear that most of the administrative costs of a business can be considered period expenses.

    Items that are not period costs are:

    Thus, if the entire use to which a cost can be put is consumed in the current accounting period (such as rent or utilities) it is probably a period cost, whereas if its use is linked to a product or is spread over multiple periods, it is probably not a period cost.

    Similar Terms

    A period cost is also known as a period expense.

    Related Questions

    What is a capitalized cost?
    What is a fixed cost?
    What is a sunk cost?
    What is a variable cost?

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