SG&A Expenses (Selling, General & Administrative)

What are SG&A Expenses?

Selling, general and administrative (SG&A) expense includes all the expenses incurred in the selling of the products of the company whether direct or indirect along with the entire general and the administrative expenses during an accounting period under consideration such as advertisement expenses, sales promotion expenses, marketing salaries, etc.

SG&A Expenses are those expenses that are necessary to keep the business going. However, they are not directly included in the manufacturing cost or product cost.

SG&A Expense is included in the income statement of the company and examples include –

  1. Rent
  2. Utilities
  3. Accounting and legal expenses
  4. Sales commission paid
  5. Salaries/wages
SG&A Expense

List of SG&A

#1 – Selling Expenses

Selling expenses are divided into direct expense and indirect expensesIndirect ExpensesIndirect expenses are the general costs incurred for running business operations and management in any enterprise. In simple terms, when you want to buy grocery from a supermarket, the transportation cost to get you to the supermarket and back is the indirect more.

  • Direct expenses are shipping expenses of the product, sales commissions.
  • Indirect expenses are the costs that occur throughout the process of manufacturing, which include product advertising and promotional expenses, traveling expenses, and telephone bills of the sales consultants.

#2 – General & Administrative Expenses

General & Administrative Expenses are the overhead expensesOverhead ExpensesOverhead cost are those cost that is not related directly on the production activity and are therefore considered as indirect costs that have to be paid even if there is no production. Examples include rent payable, utilities payable, insurance payable, salaries payable to office staff, office supplies, more of the company. They are the fixed costs incurred by the company like the rent, mortgages, and insurances that need to be paid. It also includes all the salaries, wages of the workers.

SG&A expense depends on the structure of the company, whether the company has more fixed costs than variable costs and vice versa.

  • Scenario 1: If the company has more fixed costs than variable costs, and if fixed cost is high, then it needs to have high annual sales. If even there is a slight dip in revenues, then it won’t be able to cover its fixed costs. Such companies have a high break to generate profits.
  • Scenario 2: If the company has more variable costs and very low fixed costs, then it will have more competition. But they survive the phases of fall in revenue as they don’t have to think to bother about covering fixed costs.

Examples of SG&A Expense

Example #1

Now we will see an example of General & Administrative Expenses.

Rajesh is an accountant of a startup company XYZ. He needs to calculate the Selling General & Administrative expenses, which will also include the depreciation.

Rajesh needs to include the salaries of the people of all the departments of the company and also the associated taxes. E.g., utilities, telephone, insurance, rent, repairs & maintenance, associated with the building. Also, the office equipment and the advertising expenses, commissions, travel expenses, selling and marketing supplies, and administrative and general supplies.

Once he calculates the SG&A Expenses before depreciation, he deducts the depreciation of the office building, the depreciation of the office equipment. The net $ 238500 is the amount that will be reported on the income statement.

sg&a expense example 1

We will now see some live examples of Selling, General & Administrative expenses of some companies. We can get the data from the income statement of the company.

Example #2

SG&A Expenses of ITC is as follows:

We can get the report from the financial tab of ITC limited. We need to choose an income statement to view the SG&A expenses.

sg&a expense example 2

Source: Yahoo Finance

We can see that selling, general and administrative expense is reported in the operating expenses section of the income statement.


Selling, General & Administrative expenses are vital in determining your operating income. If we subtract SG&A expenses from Gross Margin, we get Operating Income.

  • It is a key element in determining the company’s profit.
  • These costs are essential in keeping the business going.
  • Sometimes to boost profitability, these costs need to be regularized.
  • During mergers and acquisitions, these costs are a key area to look at. Several repeated positions can be cut down to bring down the SG&A costs and increase the operating income.


Excessive SG&A Expenses will hurt the profit figures of the company and, in return, reduce the shareholder’s returns.

Important Points to Note

  • SG&A is an important point to remember when calculating the profitability of a company.
  • It is all the costs that are not related to the direct manufacturing of the product.
  • It is the total of the costs which are essential for the manufacturing process like advertising costs, commissions, travel costs, etc.
  • Research and development costs are not included in SG&A expenses.

The other important point to take note is regarding the situations where there are overspending and the ways it can be reduced.


Ways to Reduce SG&A Expense

  • Restructuring and cost-cutting are required to reduce the expenses of Selling, General & Administrative costs.
  • Reduction of non-sales personnel salaries, cut in travel costs will help to regularize these costs.


Selling, General & Administrative expenses are a major driver of operating income. As we know, Gross Margin – SG&A = Operating Income, also referred to as EBIT (Earnings before interest taxes)

Therefore an excessive SG&A expense leads to a decrease in EBIT. But these expenses are also important to carry on a day to day activities. Therefore a balanced amount should be spent keeping in mind the structure of the company (more fixed costs than variable costs and vice versa).

This article has been a guide to what is SG&A Expense and its definition. Here we discuss the list of Selling, General & Administrative Expenses along with practical examples, its importance, and disadvantages. You can learn more about Accounting from the following article s-