Annuity method

With the annuity method, the asset, or rather the amount of capital representing the asset, is regarded as being capable of earning a fixed rate of interest. The sacrifice incurred in using the asset within the business is therefore two-fold: the loss arising from the exhaustion of the service potential of the asset; and the interest forgone by using the funds invested in the business to purchase the fixed asset. With the help of annuity tables, a calculation shows what equal amounts of depreciation, written off over the estimated life of the asset, will reduce the book value to nil, after debiting interest to the asset account on the diminishing amount of funds that are assumed to be invested in the business at that time, as represented by the value of the asset.

Figure 15.4 contains an illustration based on the treatment of a five-year lease which cost the company a premium of £10,000 on 1 January year 1. It shows how the total depreciation charge is computed. Each year the charge for depreciation in the income statement is the equivalent annual amount that is required to repay the investment over the five-year period at a rate of interest of 10% less the notional interest available on the remainder of the invested funds.

Figure 15.4 Annuity method

Opening

Notional

Closing

written-down

interest

Annual

Net

written-down

Year

value

(10%)

payment

movement

value

£

£

£

£

£

1

10,000

1,000

(2,638)

(1,638)

8,362

2

8,362

836

(2,638)

(1,802)

6,560

3

6,560

656

(2,638)

(1,982)

4,578

4

4,578

458

(2,638)

(2,180)

2,398

5

2,398

240

(2,638)

(2,398)

Nil

An extract from the annuity tables to obtain the annual equivalent factor for year 5 and assuming a rate of interest of 10% would show:

Therefore at a rate of interest of 10% five annual payments to repay an investor of £10,000 would each be £2,638.

A variation of this system involves the investment of a sum equal to the net charge in fixed interest securities or an endowment policy, so as to build up a fund that will generate cash to replace the asset at the end of its life.

This last system has significant weaknesses. It is based on the misconception that depreciation is 'saving up for a new one', whereas in reality depreciation is charging against profits funds already expended. It is also dangerous in a time of inflation, since it may lead management not to maintain the capital of the entity adequately, in which case they may not be able to replace the assets at their new (inflated) prices.

The annuity method, with its increasing net charge to income, does tend to take inflationary factors into account, but it must be noted that the total net profit and loss charge only adds up to the cost of the asset.

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