Non-Cash Expense refers to those expenses which are reported in the income statement of the company for the period under consideration but does not have any relation with the cash i.e., they are not paid in the cash by the company and includes expenses like depreciation, etc.
What is non cash expense?
Non cash expenses are expenses that are not related to cash. Even if they’re reported in the income statement, they have nothing to do with the payment of cash.
The most common non cash expense is depreciation. If you have gone through the financial statement of a company, you would see that the depreciation is reported, but actually, there’s no payment of cash.
For example, we can say that Tiny House Builders Inc. buys new equipment. They see that they need to charge $10,000 for depreciation. If they need to report the depreciation for next 10 years, the will report the depreciation for the equipment for the next 10 years. But actually, there would be no cash payment.
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Why do non cash expenses need to be recorded?
As per the accrual accounting, the items need to be recorded whenever the transaction happens.
For example, when the sales are being initiated, the sales should be recorded in the income statement irrespective of the money received or not. On the other hand, in cash accounting, only when the cash is being received, the sales would be recorded.
And for the same reason, we need to record non cash expenses even when the company doesn’t pay out anything in cash.
List of Non Cash Expense Examples
Let’s look at the most used non cash expense examples below and understand how they work.
#1 – Depreciation:
As mentioned earlier, depreciation is a non cash expense. If a company buys any machinery or asset, it needs to set aside a certain amount of wear and tear. And that expense is recorded every year in the income statement of the company. This expense is called depreciation and it is a non cash expense.
source: Ford SEC Filings
#2 – Amortization:
Amortization Expense is just like depreciation but for the intangible Let’s say that a company has built a patent by expending around $100,000. Now, if it lasts for 10 years, then the company has to record the amortization expense of $10,000 each year as an amortization expense.
source: Amazon SEC Filings
#3 – Unrealized gains & unrealized losses:
These are two sides of the same coin. When an investor invests in an investment and feels that the investment would earn them more profits in future, we call it unrealized gains. Actually, there’s no cash profit, it’s just on the paper until the position is closed. On the other hand, unrealized loss is also same. But in this case, the investor feels that the investment will yield more future losses (but only on paper). Since these are not cash profits or losses, we will only consider them as non cash items (the unrealized loss can be termed as a non cash expense).
source: Amazon SEC Filings
#4 – Stock-based compensation:
Many companies pay their employees stock options. These stock options are included in the compensation package. These are not direct cash, but they’re the company shares. When a company don’t have enough cash to pay off its employees, they go for stock based compensation. Even the employees leave the organization; they can get full value out of their stock-based
#5 – Provisions for future losses:
Companies often create provisions for expected losses. For example, if a company sells a portion of their total sales on credit, then there’s always chance that they wouldn’t receive the whole amount in cash. Few customers may not pay at all and the company would need to call them “bad debt”. Before the effect of “bad debt” hits the company, the company wants to protect its own interest. And that’s why they create “provisions for bad debt”. And this is one of the non cash expenses because nothing goes out in cash.
Why are non cash expenses adjusted for valuing a company?
When financial analysts look at the free cash flow of the company while conducting discounted cash flow valuation method, noncash-expenses have no place in it. These non cash expenses reduce the actual cash if they’re not adjusted.
That’s why these expenses are added back while calculating the free cash flow of the firm. Since free cash flow of the firm states the financial viability of the business, we can’t include non cash expenses.
Non-cash expenses are useful when we record them in the income statement. Recording non-cash expenses allow us to find out the net income.
But the net income of a company isn’t always useful for investors. They want to know what the company’s actual worth is. That’s why we need to value a business. To value a business we need to examine the cash flow of business. And while calculating the free cash flow, we will add back the non-cash expenses so that we can get the actual cash inflow/outflow.
Non Cash Expense Video
This has been a guide to what are non cash expenses and the list of non cash expense examples. We also look at how non cash expenses is recorded in the financial statements. You may also have a look at these following accounting tutorials –