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Impairment Meaning

Impairment is erstwhile businesses find that their asset’s reported worth (in accounting books) is higher than nan magnitude they will get if they waste nan asset. In specified a case, nan institution declares nan plus arsenic “impaired” and reduces its worth successful its accounting records. It tin either beryllium a tangible (property) aliases intangible (goodwill) asset.

When a institution acquires an asset, its worth whitethorn up and down owed to various factors specified arsenic marketplace conditions, changes successful business strategy, economical downturn, etc. This quality is sometimes higher than accustomed depreciation; thus, companies must study it connected their equilibrium expanse and income statements arsenic an impairment loss.

The intent of plus impairment is to guarantee that a company’s financial statements accurately bespeak nan existent worth of its assets, preventing nan overstatement of plus values. This accommodation gives stakeholders a much realistic thought of nan company’s financial health. Additionally, it helps make informed decisions regarding nan asset’s future, including further investments aliases different strategical actions.

Impairment Meaning

Table of Contents
  • Meaning
  • Impairment Loss
    • Formula
    • Example
    • Journal Entry
  • Indicators
    • External
    • Internal
  • Requirements
    • IFRS
    • US GAAP
  • Impairment Vs. Depreciation

Key Highlights

  • Impairment refers to a crisp alteration successful nan adjacent marketplace worth of an plus owed to respective soul and outer factors.
  • Internal and outer factors influencing impairment are changes successful nan ineligible regulations, accrued attraction costs, etc.
  • It is important to cipher nan impairment nonaccomplishment of an plus to cognize nan quality betwixt nan asset’s book worth and adjacent value.
  • Companies must comply pinch US GAAP and IFRS requirements for plus impairment.

Where is Impairment Loss Recorded?

You tin find nan impairment nonaccomplishment earlier nan operating profit successful nan income statement. Although we don’t grounds this connected nan equilibrium sheet, owed to nan disbursal connected nan income statement, nan worth of nan impaired plus decreases successful nan equilibrium sheet.

Example: Microsoft
Microsoft conducted an yearly goodwill impairment trial connected May 1, 2012, and reported a goodwill impairment of $6.193 billion. The impairment was related to their OSDs (Online Services Division) business segment, which exceeded its estimated adjacent value. Moreover, this goodwill impairment decreased nan operating income and nett income by $6.2 cardinal and reduced net per stock by $0.73.

Microsoft Income Statement 2012

(Image Source: Microsoft Income Statement 2012)

Impairment Loss


Impairment Formula


  • Carrying Value: It is nan worth of an plus connected a company’s equilibrium sheet.
  • Recoverable Amount: It is nan estimated worth an plus tin make from its usage aliases waste successful nan future.

A FastLane Logistics institution purchases trucks for their transportation business for $50,000, pinch a 5-year useful life. It leads to a yearly depreciation disbursal of $10,000 for each motortruck ($50,000/5). After utilizing nan trucks for 1.5 years, nan full depreciation expenses complete clip magnitude to $15,000 ($10,000 x 1.5).

Steps to cipher impairment loss:

Step #1: Calculate nan carrying worth utilizing nan pursuing formula:
Carrying Value = Original Cost – Accumulated Depreciation Carrying Value
= $50,000 – $15,000 = $35,000

Step #2: Evaluate nan existent worthy of nan plus by uncovering its early rate flows and discounting them backmost to nan coming clip aliases estimating nan magnitude you will get from trading it.
In this case, nan estimated recoverable magnitude is $30,000.

Step #3: Calculate nan impairment nonaccomplishment utilizing nan beneath formula:
Impairment Loss = Carrying Value – Recoverable Amount
= $35,000 – $30,000 = $5,000

Step #3

Step #4: Reporting nan Loss
Finally, nan institution must grounds an impairment nonaccomplishment of $5,000 successful nan income statement. It helps america set nan carrying worth of nan trucks connected nan equilibrium expanse to lucifer their recoverable amount.

Thus, aft this adjustment, nan truck’s carrying worth connected nan equilibrium expanse would beryllium $30,000, which aligns pinch nan estimated marketplace value. It helps nan institution support its financial records meticulous and up-to-date.

Journal Entry

In nan diary entry, we debit nan impairment nonaccomplishment relationship aliases disbursal relationship and in installments successful nan corresponding asset. For this example, nan diary introduction would be:

Journal Entry

Indicators of Impairment

These are signs that thief companies find erstwhile to impair their assets. It usually happens erstwhile nan carrying worth of an plus exceeds its recoverable amount. The pursuing are immoderate outer and soul sources that bespeak impairment.

1. External Sources

#1: Rising costs
When nan operating costs associated pinch nan attraction of nan plus are higher than nan first estimated costs, it leads to a alteration successful plus value.

#2: Market Down
A diminution successful nan marketplace worth of an plus aliases finance indicates impairment. For example, if nan existent property marketplace faces a downturn, nan worth of existent property owned by nan institution whitethorn decrease. It tin make investors deliberation that nan company’s financial position is not good, affecting nan company’s banal price.

#3: Natural Disasters
Natural disasters, specified arsenic earthquakes, floods, aliases hurricanes, tin origin harm to assets, resulting successful a alteration successful their value.

 2. Internal Sources

#1: Changes to existing laws
Changes successful existing laws, rules, aliases policies tin effect nan worth of assets. For instance, if a institution raises its accumulation value standards, it mightiness bargain much precocious machinery, which tin impact nan worth of existing equipment.

#2: Asset Damage
When an asset, for illustration a instrumentality aliases existent estate, gets damaged, it tin lead to impairment. For instance, an accidental occurrence tin harm a factory’s equipment, reducing nan recoverable worth of nan affected assets.

#3: Post-Mergers Synergy Shortfalls
When 2 companies merge to summation profits, it does not activity arsenic planned. It tin lead to financial and operational difficulties for nan recently merged company.

Requirements for Impairment

Here are nan mandatory rules businesses must travel while calculating and reporting impairment.

#1: IFRS

Under IFRS, nan IAS 36 covers nan impairment of loss. Following are a fewer highlights of IAS 36 – impairment of assets.

  • IAS 36 states that erstwhile an asset’s carrying worth is greater than its recoverable amount, companies must admit it arsenic an impairment loss.
  • IAS 36 rules use to each assets, pinch circumstantial exceptions for assets different accounting standards cover, for illustration inventors, security contracts, deferred tax, etc.
  • At nan extremity of each year, arsenic per IAS, an entity must measure nan outer and soul indicators of plus impairment.
  • If location is an indication, they should cipher nan asset’s recoverable magnitude according to IAS 36.9.
  • After that, cheque for impairment loss; if yes, cipher nan loss.
  • IAS 36 besides outlines nan conditions wherever a institution tin reverse an impairment loss. It is applicable erstwhile nan recovering magnitude is greater than nan carrying amount.
  • However, losses connected goodwill are not reversible. For different assets, nan nonaccomplishment tin beryllium reversed if nan information improves.


US GAAP has accounting codes for illustration ASC 350 and ASC 360 that screen impairment of assets. US GAAP is simply a small complex, dissimilar IAS 36, which is very simple. Following are nan rules by US GAAP.

  • To cheque if an plus is impaired, US GAAP has nan pursuing standards:
Assets FASB Standard Includes
PP&E ASC 360 2-step trial and trigger-based model
Goodwill ASC 350-20 1-step test, Annual testing requirement, and Optional qualitative assessment
Intangible Assets Finite lived: ASC 360 2-step trial and trigger-based model
Indefinite lived: ASC 350-30 1-step test, Annual testing requirement, and Optional qualitative assessment
  • The 2-step trial includes:
    1. Recoverability Test: If nan asset’s book worth is much than pinch undiscounted early rate flows, nan plus worth is not recoverable.
    2. Impairment Test: Check if nan carrying worth is little than nan adjacent worth of an asset; if yes, nan plus is impaired. Fair worth is nan trading value calculated utilizing marketplace aliases income approaches.
  • To cipher nan loss, firms must subtract nan adjacent worth of assets from nan carrying value.
  • The nonaccomplishment is past recorded successful nan income statement.
  • Finally, nether US GAAP, reversal of impairment is not allowed.

Impairment Vs. Depreciation

The pursuing shows a broad quality betwixt impairment vs. depreciation.

Basis Impairment Depreciation
Definition An unexpected and irreversible diminution successful nan worth of an plus owed to factors for illustration earthy disasters aliases marketplace down An expected alteration successful nan worth of an plus owed to regular deterioration and tear.
Assets Considered It applies to some intangible and fixed assets. It applies to only fixed assets.
Calculation Method It is wished by knowing adjacent value, recoverable, and carrying amount. It is wished by either straight-line aliases accelerated depreciation methods.
Example A company’s manufacturing instrumentality is damaged by flooding, starring to an impaired plus value. A package company’s patent loses its marketplace worth complete clip owed to title successful precocious technology.

Final Thoughts

Impairment is an basal accounting believe that ensures transparency by valuing assets accurately. It involves identifying some soul and outer indicators of impairment. Companies must comply pinch nan requirements successful IAS 36 and GAAP to admit plus impairment. Impairment nonaccomplishment is nan quality betwixt an asset’s carrying worth and its recoverable magnitude aliases adjacent value. This believe enables amended decision-making, promotes financial transparency, and helps build stakeholders’ spot successful a company’s financial position.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. When does impairment of goodwill occur?
Answer: When nan carrying magnitude of a reporting goodwill portion exceeds nan estimated adjacent value, it leads to goodwill impairment. Companies typically admit this during yearly impairment tests. The factors that trigger this nonaccomplishment are economical conditions, accrued competition, changes successful ineligible requirements, etc. The 2 communal methods companies usage to trial this are nan income and marketplace approaches.

Q2. When and really should you reverse an impairment loss?
Answer: The reversal of an impairment occurs if a alteration successful circumstances indicates nan asset’s recoverable magnitude has accrued since nan impairment was recognized. Following are immoderate of nan indicators of erstwhile to reverse.

External Sources:

  • Clear signs of nan asset’s worth going up.
  • Positive changes successful technology, markets, economy, aliases laws tin reverse impairment.
  • Lower marketplace rates trim nan discount rate, raising nan asset’s recoverable amount.

Internal Sources:

  • Favorable changes successful nan costs to amended nan asset’s performance.
  • Evidence indicates an asset’s economical capacity is, aliases will be, amended than expected.

Lastly, nan reverse of impairment nonaccomplishment is imaginable only erstwhile nan recoverable magnitude of an plus is higher than its carrying value. Companies should see nan supra indicators earlier reversing an impairment loss.

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