Accounting cost is the recorded cost of an activity. An accounting cost is recorded in the ledgers of a business, so the cost appears in an entity's financial statements. If an accounting cost has not yet been consumed and is equal to or greater than the capitalization limit of a business, the cost is recorded in the balance sheet. If an accounting cost has been consumed, the cost is recorded in the income statement. If cash has been expended in association with an accounting cost, the related cash outflow appears in the statement of cash flows. A dividend has no accounting cost, since it is a distribution of earnings to investors.
An accounting cost is most typically recorded via the accounts payable system. It can also be recorded through a journal entry for individual transactions, or through the payroll system for compensation-related costs.
The scope of an accounting cost can change, depending on the situation. For example, a manager wants to know the accounting cost of a product. If this information is needed for a short-term pricing decision, only the variable costs associated with the product need to be included in the accounting cost. However, if the information is needed to set a long-term price that will cover the company's overhead costs, the scope of the accounting cost will be broadened to include an allocation of fixed costs.