There are two options when purchasing assets with a useful life of greater than one year.
Capitalized assets are referred to as fixed assets and represent tangible property and equipment with a useful life of more than a year (except collection items and assets held for investment purposes) that meet or exceed the organization’s capitalization threshold.
An organization’s capitalization threshold is the dollar amount at which a long-lived asset (useful life of greater than one year) is treated as a fixed asset rather than as an expense. The dollar amount is defined by each organization and should be clearly defined within the organization’s capitalization policy.
Fixed assets remain on the statement of financial position as an unexpired cost that is reduced each reporting period by a depreciation expense, based on its value and useful life.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recommends that for-profit organizations adhere to a standard of $2,500 or $5,000 for small and large organizations, respectively; however, there is no standardized guidance for nonprofit organizations. Nonprofit organizations define the amount an asset with a useful life greater than one year must cost before it is classified as a fixed asset within their financial statements (within reason). We often see the threshold established for a capitalization policy vary based on the size, scope and mission of an organization. Smaller organizations typically operate with policy thresholds around the $1,000 range and larger nonprofits having policy thresholds around $5,000 or more.
An organization may also want to state their accounting treatment of fixed asset group purchases within their capitalization policy. Group purchases are purchases where the total is greater than the organization’s capitalization threshold; however, individual items within the group purchase fall below the organization’s capitalization threshold.
For group purchases, an organization may wish to adopt one of the following treatments within their capitalization policy:
1. Subject each individual item within the group purchase to the organization’s capitalization threshold
2. Subject the group purchase amount to the organization’s capitalization threshold
3. Adopt a separate, higher capitalization threshold for group purchases
An organization’s capitalization policy may be updated as the organization shrinks or grows.
It is imperative that organizations have a clear written capitalization policy to aid in preventing inconsistent and inefficient bookkeeping.
If you have questions or would like to develop your organization’s capitalization policy, our team of business strategists are delighted to answer and further assist you through this process. With our demonstrated, industry-wide success, our services will ensure accuracies in your bookkeeping, empowering you with the confidence in future financial decisions.
Call our office, headquartered in Placentia, Orange County, California, today, to speak with one of our experts in a short, zero obligation discussion! As the end of the year continues to quickly approach, now is the time to get ahead and ensure your competitive position.