Accumulated Depreciation on Balance Sheet: Formula, Journal Entry, Credit or Debit

Depreciation is a technique used in accounting to spread an asset’s cost over its useful life. This method is crucial in helping companies conform to the matching principle in accounting. This way, they can match expenses to the revenues they help generate. Depreciation also gives rise to accumulated depreciation. While it does not appear on the balance sheet, it is crucial in reporting a company’s assets.

What is Accumulated Depreciation?

Accumulated depreciation refers to the total depreciation recorded on an asset over its used life. Usually, it represents the usage for that asset in financial terms. When companies calculate depreciation annually, they accumulate it in a separate account. This account is known as accumulated depreciation. Companies maintain a separate accumulated depreciation account for each asset.

Accumulated depreciation usually includes the total depreciation for a fixed asset since its acquisition. Companies maintain this account until they dispose of the asset or it becomes unusable. This account is crucial in reporting the accurate value of an asset based on accounting principles. The balance in the accumulated depreciation account regularly increases due to depreciation charges.

Is Accumulated Depreciation an asset or liability?

Accumulated depreciation is a crucial part of a company’s balance sheet. The balance sheet includes three headings, namely assets, liabilities, and equity. However, accumulated depreciation does not fall under any of these categories. Instead, the accumulated depreciation account is a type of contra asset account. These accounts exist to reduce the value of assets reported in the balance sheet.

Therefore, accumulated depreciation is neither an asset nor a liability but a contra asset. It does not appear on the balance sheet on its own. Instead, companies use accumulated depreciation to reduce the value of their fixed assets before presenting them. Companies may also report this amount in the notes to the financial statements as a part of their fixed asset notes.

What is the Accumulated Depreciation formula?

There is no specific formula for accumulated depreciation. As mentioned, it represents an account where companies collect the depreciation charged on specific assets. Therefore, companies can calculate accumulated depreciation by adding all those charges over the years. Companies also use various methods to calculate depreciation. Usually, they include the straight-line and declining-balance methods. Based on that, the accumulated depreciation may differ.

The formula for accumulated depreciation under the straight-line method may look as follows.

[(Asset cost – Expected salvage value) / Useful life] x Years in use

For the declining-balance method, the accumulated depreciation formula is more complex. Companies can use the following process to calculate the depreciation under that method.

Depreciation factor x (1 / Asset’s lifespan) x Carrying value

What are the journal entries for Accumulated Depreciation?

The journal entries for accumulated depreciation are straightforward. These entries involve recording the depreciation for that asset based on the method used. On the other hand, these entries also increase the balance in the accumulated depreciation account. Overall, the journal entries for accumulated depreciation are as below.

Dr Depreciation
Cr Accumulated depreciation

For example, a company calculates the depreciation on one of its assets to be $1,000 for the year. The journal entries for that depreciation will look as below.

Dr Depreciation $1,000
Cr Accumulated depreciation $1,000


Accumulated depreciation represents the total depreciation charged on an asset since acquisition. It refers to an account that companies maintain to collect those charges over the years. Usually, the amount in this account increases as the company uses the assets more. Accumulated depreciation is crucial on the balance sheet, although it is not an asset or liability.

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