Both the Marginal costing and absorption costing are the two different approaches used for valuation of inventory where in case of Marginal costing only variable cost incurred by the company is applied to the inventory whereas in case of the absorption costing both variable costs and fixed costs incurred by the company are applied to the inventory.
Marginal Costing vs Absorption Costing Differences
If you want to understand how the costs of the finished products or inventories are computed, you would need to give special attention to marginal costing and absorption costing.
- Marginal costing is a method where the variable costs are considered as the product cost and the fixed costs are considered as the costs of the period.
- Absorption costing, on the other hand, is a method that considers both fixed costs and variable costs as product costs. This costing method is important particularly for reporting purposes. Reporting purpose includes both financial reporting and tax reporting.
There’s a debate on which costing method is better – marginal costing or absorption costing.
Let’s get started with head to head differences between marginal costing vs absorption costing. And then we will talk about each of them separately.
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Marginal Costing vs Absorption Costing Infographics
As these two costing methods are completely different from each other, obviously, there would be multiple differences between marginal costing vs absorption costing.
Let’s look at the most significant differences between these two –
Marginal Costing vs Absorption Costing – Key differences
As you can see marginal costing vs absorption costing are completely different from each other, here are the key differences between them –
- Marginal costing doesn’t take fixed costs into account under product costing or inventory valuation. Absorption costing, on the other hand, takes both fixed costs and variable costs into account.
- Marginal costing can be classified as fixed costs and variable costs. Absorption costing can be classified as production, distribution, and selling & administration.
- The purpose of marginal costing is to show forth the contribution of the product cost. The purpose of absorption costing is to provide a fair and an accurate picture of the profits.
- Marginal costing can be expressed as contribution per unit. Absorption costing can be expressed as net profit per unit.
- Marginal costing is a method of costing and it isn’t a conventional way of looking at costing method. Absorption costing, on the other hand, is used for financial and tax reporting and it is the most conventional method of costing.
Marginal Costing vs Absorption Costing (Comparison Table)
|Basis for Comparison – marginal costing vs absorption costing||Marginal Costing||Absorption Costing|
|1. Meaning||Marginal costing is a technique that assumes only variable costs as product costs.||Absorption costing is a technique that assumes both fixed costs and variables costs as product costs.|
|2. What it’s all about?||Variable cost is considered as product cost and fixed cost is assumed as cost for the period.||Both fixed cost and variable cost are considered in product cost.|
|3. Nature of overheads||Fixed costs and variable costs.||Overheads in the case of absorption costing are quite different – production, distribution, and selling & administration.|
|4. How profit is calculated?||By using profit volume ratio (P/V ratio)||Fixed costs are considered in product costs; that’s why profit gets reduced.|
|5. Determines||The cost of the next unit.||The cost of each unit.|
|6. Opening & Closing stocks||Since the emphasis is on the next unit, change in opening/closing stocks doesn’t affect the cost per unit.||Since the emphasis is on each unit, change in opening/closing stocks affects the cost per unit.|
|7. Most important aspect||Contribution per unit.||Net profit per unit.|
|8. Purpose||To show forth the emphasis of contribution in product cost.||To show forth the accuracy and fair treatment of product cost.|
|9. How it is presented?||It is presented by outlining the total contribution.||It is presented in the most conventional way for the purpose of financial and tax reporting.|
From the discussion above, it is clear that absorption costing is a better method than marginal costing in usefulness. But if a company has just started out and the purpose is just to see the contribution per unit and the break-even point, marginal costing may be useful.
Otherwise, it is better to use absorption costing. It will help a firm look at their cost comprehensively and they will be able to strategize around their cost effectively.
This has a been a guide to the top differences between marginal costing vs absorption costing. Here we also discuss the marginal costing and absorption costing differences with examples, infographics, and comparison table. You may also have a look at the following articles for gaining further knowledge in Accounting –
- Average Cost vs Marginal Cost
- Margin vs Profit | Top Differences
- Top Differences Between Period Cost and Product Cost
- Differences Between Margin and Markup
- Top 5 Differences Between Inventory and Stock
- Financial Accounting Definition
- Differences Between IFRS vs Indian GAAP
- Cost Accounting vs Financial Accounting
- Cost Accounting Definition
- What is Explicit Cost?
- What is Implicit Cost?