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Nonmonetary Exchanges

In simple terms, a nonmonetary exchange is a trade. The book value of the old asset is removed and fair value is recorded for the new asset with any difference recorded as a gain or loss. The only

question is about the determination of fair value. Nonmonetary exchanges are usually recorded using the fair value of the asset surrendered because that is a measure of the sacrifice (cost) that is
made by the organization to acquire the new asset. If the fair value of the asset given up cannot be determined, the fair value of the asset received is used.
There is one major exception that you will find on many CPA exam questions. If a transaction does not have commercial substance (there was no reason to make the trade except in hopes of creating a reported gain to make the company look better), the new asset is recorded at the book value of the asset that was surrendered. Since no difference takes place, no gain or loss is reported. A transaction has commercial substance if the cash flows are significantly different as a result of the exchange. The configuration of cash flows includes the risk, timing, and the amount of future cash flows.

Subsequent Expenditures: Capitalize or Expense?
After land, buildings, and equipment are in use generating revenues, additional costs are often incurred. If the cost makes the asset more productive in some way (it is bigger, it produces more
goods, it produces better goods, it produces goods more efficiently than anticipated) or if the life is extended beyond what had been expected, the cost is capitalized (added to the reported cost of the
asset). If the life is extended, accountants often reduce accumulated depreciation by the amount of the cost.
Otherwise, the cost is expensed. It is a maintenance expense if anticipated and a repair expense if not anticipated.
Depreciation is the allocation of cost over the period that a long-lived asset is used to generate revenues in conformity with the matching principle. It is not an attempt to reflect fair value. It is
simply a means of spreading asset costs to periods in which the assets produce revenue. Essentially, the “depreciation base” is allocated over the asset’s useful life in a rational and systematic manner.
Land, and any other long-term asset that has an indefinite life, is not subjected to depreciation. There are many patterns that can be used to assign depreciation to a period but three general types:
straight-line that assigns the same amount to each period, accelerated depreciation which assigns more expense to the earlier time periods when more revenues are usually being generated, and
units-of-production which is a straight-line method based on the amount of work done rather than on years. The double-declining balance method is the most commonly used accelerated depreciation
method although the sum-of-the-years digits method is also seen.


Fixed Assets

Fixed assets are reported initially at the capitalized amount of expenditures made to acquire any and all tangible property which will be used to help generate revenues for a period of more than one year. Tangible property includes land, buildings, equipment, machinery, or any other property that physically exists. All of the costs that are normal and necessary to get the asset into the position and condition to generate revenues are capitalized, including the cost of negotiations, sales taxes, finders’  fees, razing an old building, shipment, assembly and installation, preliminary testing, and so forth.
Normally, any costs incurred after revenues have begun to be generated are expensed in accordance with the matching principle although some exceptions will be described later.
Charges for self-constructed fixed as-sets include direct materials, direct construction labor, variable overhead, and a fair share of fixed over-head. Assets received through donation should be recorded at fair value with a corresponding credit to revenue.

If an asset is acquired where there is a legal obligation for costs associated with the future retirement of the asset (such as with a nuclear power plant), the fair value (usually determined as the present
value of the future cash flows) of that obligation should be added to the carrying value of the asset and recognized as a liability.


Capitalization of Interest

Capitalization of interest cost is necessary during the period of time when fixed assets (and inventory specially built for a customer) are constructed. This interest is incurred prior to any revenues being generated so the matching principle requires that the expensing of the interest be delayed (by being added to the cost of the asset). Expensing eventually takes place through the depreciation process. Interest is only capitalized during the period of construction.
It is not the amount of interest paid that is capitalized. The amount capitalized is computed as:
Average accumulated expenditures X Interest rate X Period of construction If a building project has no accumulated expenditures on the first day of the year but work gradually increases the accumulated expenditures to $1.2 million by the last day of the year, a simple average of those accumulated expenditures is $600,000 ([-0- + $1,200,000]/2).
The interest rate to be used in this computation is the rate for any money specifically borrowed to finance the construction project. For example, if a company borrows $1.2 million at an annual rate of 5 percent to finance this building, then 5 percent is the applicable rate.  However, if no debt is incurred specifically for a construction project, the interest rate to be used is the weighted average rate of the company’s other debts. (Note that interest must be capitalized during construction even if no specific debt was incurred for the project.)