Accumulated Depreciation: Definition & Formula

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Adjusting Entries: Definition, Types & Examples

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Accumulated…
  • 0:57 Annual Depreciation
  • 1:50 Formula & Example
  • 3:41 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed Audio mode
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Anthony Aparicio

Tony taught Business and Aeronautics courses for eight years; he holds a Master's degree in Management and is completing a PhD in Organizational Psychology

Assets such as equipment and vehicles lose value over time, but how do you show that on your accounting books? This lesson will demonstrate how to account for depreciation over the course of multiple years and calculate an asset's current value.

Accumulated Depreciation Defined

When a company buys a piece of equipment, like a forklift, for instance, the value of that machinery decreases as time passes and as it continues to be used by the machine's operators. Basically, that forklift loses value over time due to these things. From an accounting standpoint, the amount of decrease that's allowed by accepted accounting principles is tracked over time so managers will accurately know the value of the company's equipment.

Accumulated depreciation is a contra-asset account that's made for each asset that'll be depreciated by the end of the accounting period. Contra-asset accounts are those types of accounts that have a normal credit balance instead of a debit balance. Think of it as your personal credit card account versus your normal checking account. The accumulated depreciation account is the amount that the asset's original value needs to be decreased by to show the current value.

Annual Depreciation

Let's assume for a minute that you have your own company. Let's also assume that your company has a machine that puts shrink-wrap on products before they are placed in boxes and sent off to wholesalers and retailers for sale. The cost of that machine when it was purchased was $10,000 and it's thought to have a useful life of around 10 years and no salvage value, meaning at the end of its useful life the machine will be worth $0. Using the straight-line depreciation method, we see that the equipment will be depreciated by $1,000 each year. The straight-line depreciation method basically will show this: $10,000 cost minus $0 salvage value divided by 10 years.

On the books, you'll have an asset account for your equipment. For simplicity, we will assume that this is your only equipment owned. When purchased, you would debit the equipment account for $10,000 and credit cash for the same amount.

Formula and Example

The formula for figuring out how much an asset will depreciate each year looks like this:

annual depreciation expense

This might seem a little complicated, but don't worry! It's actually pretty simple. We'll use our shrink-wrap company example to understand it.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account