Depreciation policy and your bottomline


I have just completed my session on FRS16 on property, plant and equipment with F3 Financial Accounting class.

I have stressed that depreciation policy is within management’s right to decide. The management may adopt a relevant method or formula to account for depreciation for the “right impact” on its bottomline.

Allow me to cite the example of this airline company managing its fleet of planes and the choice of depreciation policy.

The company chose to expense high depreciation for its young fleet. This will consequently push up the breakeven passenger load factor and cargo capacity utilisation levels. The management are thus “motivated” to think at operating its business at different levels (ie. in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, customer service etc) compared to its competitors.

After using the planes for a few years and given its expressed desire to maintain the youngest fleet for its passengers, these planes with relatively low net book values were then disposed at market prices at very handsome accounting profits.

If these gains from disposals were to be judged as non-operating profits and thus not subjected to the usual corporate tax, this would be certainly provide the icing on the cake for the overall bottomline.

Attentive review and consequent adoption of any accounting policies are critical first steps of a company. While the depreciation policy alone is not the magic wand in making a company successful, it will help in certain circumstances.

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