Paying off debt through a scheduled payment plan.

Amortization refers to the gradual allocation of the cost of an asset (often intangible assets) over its useful life. Here’s a breakdown of this financial concept:

Core Function:

  • Amortization distributes the initial cost of an asset, such as a loan, patent, or intangible property, evenly over its expected lifespan.
  • This process matches the expense of the asset with the period in which it benefits the business.


  • Loan Repayment: In the context of loans, amortization schedules detail the breakdown of each payment into principal (amount borrowed) and interest. Each payment reduces the outstanding principal amount, gradually paying off the loan over time.
  • Intangible Assets: The cost of intangible assets like patents, copyrights, or trademarks is spread out over their estimated useful life through amortization. This prevents the entire cost from being reflected as an expense in the year it was acquired.

Accounting Treatment:

  • Amortization Expense: The portion of the asset’s cost recognized as an expense in each accounting period is recorded as amortization expense.
  • Accumulated Amortization: This account reflects the total amount of amortization recognized up to a specific point in time.


  • A company purchases a patent for $100,000 with an estimated useful life of 10 years.
  • The annual amortization expense would be $10,000 ($100,000 cost / 10 years).
  • Each year, $10,000 would be recognized as amortization expense, reducing the value of the patent on the company’s balance sheet and reflecting the gradual decrease in its value over time.

Key Points:

  • Amortization does not represent a physical decrease in the asset itself, but rather reflects the allocation of its cost as an expense over its useful life.
  • The amortization rate is typically calculated based on the initial cost, estimated useful life, and salvage value (if any) of the asset.
  • Different assets have varying amortization periods depending on their expected lifespan.