Amortization vs Depletion: Difference and Comparison

When we talk about resource management as well as cost allocation for ethereal assets, we take into account terms like; amortization and depletion.

Very commonly used by commerce and management field researchers, this term couple holds a lot of meaning in management and understanding of all types of resources.

This article looks into the deeper meaning as well as the differences between amortization and depletion, along with their usage in the real world.

Key Takeaways

  1. Amortization allocates an intangible asset’s cost over its useful life.
  2. Depletion refers to allocating the cost of a natural resource over its extraction period.
  3. Both methods are used to spread out the expense of an asset, but they apply to different types of assets: intangible and natural resources, respectively.

Amortization vs Depletion

Amortization is the allocation of the cost of an intangible asset across its useful life while depletion is the reduction in the value of a natural resource as its supply is extracted and utilised. The former applies to Intangible assets like patents, and the latter applies to tangible assets like coal mines.

Amortization vs Depletion 1

Amortization is a very important accounting terminology that means lowering the cost or value of an intangible asset or resource throughout its shell life period.

It’s a very common practice in the accounting field of studies and is widely used by accountancy practitioners. It is partially similar to depreciation in physical assets.

To put it simply, amortization refers to lowering a loan or intangible debt in parts or phases while the asset is in its useful life period.

Depletion refers to the process in accounting when the net worth or value of a natural resource is reduced after its extraction and utilization for various uses.

Like amortization, depletion also is a non-cash expense as it lowers the value of a resource exponentially after its usage is progressed to the maximum. Depletion applies to all types of natural resources like coal, oil, timber, minerals, and metals.

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonAmortizationDepletion
MeaningDecrement and allocation of cost of an intangible asset throughout its useful life.Decrement in the net value of a natural resource after it has been extracted and utilized.
Asset typeIntangible assets like debts, loans and agreements.Tangible natural resources like timber, coal, oil, mineral reserves etc.
Industry usageAny industry that deals with intangible resources like loaning and business related organizations.Industries which deal with usage of natural resources like mining industries, oil fields etc.
Basis of chargeTerm of life and usage of the asset in terms of time in years or months.Based on assessment and utilization and exhaustion of natural resources.
FormulaTotal cost of the intangible asset/Useful life in yearsCost – salvage value/No. of units that can be extracted

What is Amortization?

Amortization is a procedure used in the accounting and commerce field of business when the decrement and allotment of new costs are done for intangible assets.

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Intangible assets are the assets that exist on paper only and cannot be touched physically example, loans, debts, and lend-over.

Amortization is commonly practised by money lending associations or loan-providing foundations to introduce the loan repayment schedule based on its date of maturation.

Banks commonly use this tactic to bring down the value of a debt, loan, or mortgage.

Sometimes an amortization technique is used for paying off debts and loans in due periodic slots (yearly or monthly).

An amortization schedule is used to make instalment payments on a loan, such as a mortgage or a car loan, to reduce the current balance.

To calculate the amortized cost of an intangible asset, we have to divide the ‘cost of the intangible asset’ by ‘number of useful years’.

Amortization is charged in a sequential manner, which means that the charge to profit and loss is similar to each year of its usefulness (calculated in terms of years).

One might ask the reason for this technique, and amortization is done because the shell life of intangible assets depends on its legal term value as well as economic value. Hence, amortization is only applicable to ethereal assets like loans and debts.

What is Depletion?

Depletion is a process in which the decrement of the value or cost of natural resources (exhaustible) is done to maintain its usage term life.

It is a non-cash expense process that simply decreases the net worth of natural, tangible resources according to their utilization and extraction. 

When natural resource extraction costs are capitalized, they are systematically divided as well as categorized across different periods of time-based on the resources extracted and at the time they were utilized.

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It is somewhat similar to the principle of amortization since both are non-cash expenses as well as both deal with the decrement of the cost of resources and assets (tangible and intangible, respectively).

Many factors influence the depletion of a natural resource, like; acquisition of the resource, exploration, development, and the restoration factor is primal for exhaustible natural resources.

To calculate the depletion value of a resource, one requires the cost of the resource, the salvage value of the resource, and the number of units that can be extracted in a unit of time.

These values give out the depletion value by using the formula: Cost – salvage value/No. of units that can be extracted.

Depletion is used because of the exhaustible factor of natural resources, and this also makes depletion an essential process in accounting.

Main Differences Between Amortization and Depletion

  1. Amortization is a procedure that is applicable to intangible assets, whereas depletion is applicable to tangible natural resources only.
  2. Amortization is for industries that deal with patents, warranties, loans, and other legalities, but depletion is practised by mining fields and oil-extracting companies.
  3. The year-on-year charge for amortization stays similar for intangible assets, whereas the year-on-year charge for depletion depends on the yearly number of units extracted (Natural resources).
  4. The formula for calculating amortization is; Total cost of the intangible asset/Useful life in years, and the formula for calculating depletion is; Cost – salvage value/No. of units that can be extracted.
  5. Amortizations are charged due to the limited legal window period of assets like loans, debts, and licenses, whereas depletions are charged because of the exhaustion and reformation rate of natural resources like timber, oil, and minerals.
Difference Between X and Y 2023 05 11T085426.443

Last Updated : 01 August, 2023

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27 thoughts on “Amortization vs Depletion: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The way the article describes amortization and depletion as non-cash expenses but crucial in cost allocation is quite enlightening.

    • The relevance of the depletion process in maintaining the value of natural resources became very clear through the article.

    • The explanation of the process of depletion was particularly insightful, especially regarding its non-cash nature.

  2. The amortization and depletion formulas provided a clear mathematical understanding of the processes, making them easier to grasp.

  3. The amortization schedule and its significance in loan repayments were well-described, making it easier to understand this concept.

  4. The distinction between amortization for intangible assets and depletion for natural resources was articulated with great clarity in the article.

  5. The amortization schedule and its relevance to the loan repayment structure were explained succinctly and effectively.

  6. The connection between legal term value and economic value in the context of amortization was elaborated quite effectively in the article.


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