What is Absorption Costing? Definition Meaning Example

absorption accounting definition

Another advantage of using variable costing internally is that it prevents managers from increasing production solely for the purpose of inflating profit. Variable costing provides managers with the information necessary to prepare a contribution margin income statement, which leads to more effective cost-volume-profit analysis. absorption accounting definition However, the managers prefer marginal costing over absorption costing for managerial decision-making. The closing stock of inventory is valued under Absorption Costing. Here, production is taken as the base for the profit calculation. It identifies and combines all the production costs, whether Variable or Fixed.

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The formats in respect of absorption costing and marginal costing being different, the operating statements under these two techniques also differ. However, net profit under both the techniques will be the same when there is no opening or closing stock. Therefore, the inclusion of fixed costs may, sometimes, lead to improper decisions.

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What does absorption mean in business?

Absorbed is a reference to something that is taken in or acquired, such as a price increase, or another cost. The term is often used in relation to manufacturing overhead that has been allocated to produced goods or other cost objects.

What was happening, was Jack was only charging $35.00 for each of his coffee pots. This meant that Jack was not even covering his costs with each coffee pot sold. It was at that time Jack learned that he should consider applying absorption costing to his business. This technique uses Overhead Absorption Rate to allocate overhead costs to cost units. Recall that selling and administrative costs are considered period costs and are expensed in the period occurred.

Disadvantages of Absorption Costing

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It has been recognised by various bodies as FASB , ASG , ASB for the purpose of preparing external reports and for valuation of inventory. It helps to conform with accrual and matching concepts which require matching cost with revenue for a particular period.


In the case of marginal costing technique, only variable costs are charged to cost units. Fixed costs are treated not as product costs but as period costs. These costs are, in their entirety, charged to contribution generated by cost units. The effect of this kind of treatment is that finished goods and work-in- progress are valued at marginal cost, i.e., prime cost plus variable production overheads. First of all, Absorption rates are computed for absorption of overheads in costs of the cost units. Since variable costing treats fixed manufacturing overhead costs as period costs, all fixed manufacturing overhead costs are expensed on the income statement when incurred.

absorption accounting definition

The change in cost per unit with a change in the level of output in absorption costing technique poses a problem to the management in taking managerial decisions. Absorption costing is useful if there is only one product, there is no inventory and overhead recovery rate is based on normal capacity instead of actual level of activity. Since fixed costs are unable to be subtracted from revenue until the units are sold, absorption costing can provide an incomplete view of a company’s profit levels.

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This pricing method makes it possible to increase profitability by overproducing a product. That is because the fixed overhead is assigned to the total number of produced units, lowering the cost for each additional unit produced.

  • Hence, absorption costing can be used as an accounting trick to temporarily increase a company’s profitability by moving fixed manufacturing overhead costs from the income statement to the balance sheet.
  • Net profit reported under both the techniques differ from one another when sales for the year are more or less than production, i.e., sales and production are out of balance.
  • Absorption costing, also known as full costing, is conventional in ascertaining the cost.
  • Decision-making cannot be accomplished relying on inaccurate costs.
  • Direct labor includes the factory labor costs required to construct a product.
  • The manufacturing overhead is available in the income statement.

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