Capital assets

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For fixed assets ( english fixed assets ) is in the accounting of on the asset side of the balance designated part of the assets , which at the balance sheet date are destined one the business enterprise to serve permanently.

The term fixed assets is used not only in accounting, but also in national accounts .


According to the legal definition of Section 247 (2) of the German Commercial Code ( HGB) , fixed assets include all assets that are intended to continuously serve business operations. It thus includes all assets that are necessary for the construction, equipment and functionality of a company and that are tied to the company in the long term and that serve the purpose of the company . In contrast to current assets, fixed assets are not further processed or processed and are not included in the process of operational performance . It is one of the operational potential factors . Specifically, there are three subgroups of fixed assets


A distinction must be made between activation bans , activation options and activation obligations. A capitalization option exists for internally generated intangible assets ( Section 248 (2) sentence 1 HGB). However, self-created (original) brands, printed titles, publishing rights, customer lists or comparable intangible assets may not be capitalized (Section 248 (2) sentence 2 HGB). There are also no activation bans for expenses incurred in setting up a company, raising equity and concluding insurance contracts ( Section 248 of the German Commercial Code). The ability to be activated is generally only given after the research phase has ended and the development phase begins. A characteristic of this point in time is the transition “from systematic searching to trying out and testing acquired knowledge or skills”. If research and development cannot be reliably separated from one another, the capitalization of research and development costs is ruled out ( Section 255 (2a) sentence 4 HGB). During the research phase there is an activation ban, in the development phase there is a partial activation option. All assets that can be used for a limited period of time are required to be capitalized, including goodwill in accordance with Section 246, Paragraph 1, Clause 4 of the German Commercial Code.

For the purpose of uniformity, balance sheet clarity , economic reality and balance continuity requires § 266 para. 2 HGB a subdivision of fixed assets in intangible assets ( english "intangible assets" ), fixed assets ( english "tangible assets" ) and financial assets ( english "financial assets" ). This regulation is in line with international practice.

  • Intangible assets,
  • Property, plant and equipment,
  • Financial assets.

Furthermore, a distinction is made between depreciable and non-depreciable fixed assets. Non-depreciable fixed assets include land, shares or securities. It is based on the assumption that there will be no loss of value and therefore no depreciation will be allowed. The depreciable fixed assets consist of buildings, machines or office equipment and are subject to a loss of value that must be offset by depreciation.


The assessment of non-depreciable assets are carried at cost . In the case of fixed assets, the use of which is limited in time (e.g. buildings ), the amortized acquisition or production costs are to be used as the balance sheet value . The sum of these values ​​is referred to as gross fixed assets. The value must then be depreciated as planned over the useful life of the asset ( Section 253 (3) HGB), i.e. it decreases with increasing age of the item (net fixed assets). According to the lower of cost or market principle , temporary reductions in value compared to the original book value must be disregarded, only permanent reductions in value must be countered by depreciation (Section 253 Paragraphs 1 and 3 HGB). A permanent decrease in value is a sustained - at least a considerable part of the useful life - decrease of the current value below the book value. Deleted later, the reason for the write-down, as one is attribution in connection with the write-perform (§ 253 para. 5 sentence 1 HGB), but not the goodwill (§ 253 para. 5 sentence 2 HGB).

In addition, unscheduled depreciation must be carried out if there is a likely permanent decrease in value. If the decrease in value is only temporary, there is the option of depreciation for financial assets. Reasons for unscheduled depreciation are:

The development of fixed assets must be presented in detail in the annual financial statements of the corporations . The initial values ​​and all additions and disposals, transfers and write-downs and write-ups of the individual assets are included in the schedule of assets .

International regulations

The international structuring rules and questions relating to the allocation of fixed or current assets are homogeneous with German law. The international assessment regulations are very heterogeneous.

National accounts

Tangible assets of the sectors of the German economy

Fixed assets in the sense of the national accounts (VGR) include all assets that are used repeatedly or permanently in production for more than a year . In the national accounts, fixed assets, together with inventories and valuables, are part of the assets produced and are part of the assets in the balance sheet . The objects that make up fixed assets are divided into tangible goods or tangible assets and intangible goods:

Financial assets, capitalized goodwill and non-produced property, plant and equipment (such as land ) do not belong to the fixed assets within the meaning of the national accounts. The land is not included in the fixed assets account of the national accounts, “because it cannot be increased through production activities. The land is one of the non-produced assets, the value of which is only determined in the national accounts at longer intervals. "

Household household wealth is also not included . Military consumer goods are included in fixed assets if they could also be used for civilian purposes, whereas purely military goods such as weapons and armored vehicles are not.

Fixed assets are shown as gross fixed assets or as net fixed assets. “When using the gross concept, the assets are shown at their new value without taking into account the depreciation, while with the net concept the depreciation accumulated since the time of investment is deducted. The ratio of net to gross fixed assets is called the degree of modernity. This measure expresses the percentage of assets that have not yet been depreciated and thus provides information about the aging process of fixed assets. "

A valuation at replacement prices means the amount that would have had to be paid if the asset had been purchased at the time of the report.

The calculation of net fixed assets at replacement prices includes changes that are caused by a) increase in inventory due to additions at current prices, b) decrease due to depreciation valued at current prices (corresponding to the valuation at replacement prices), c) reduction due to other real Changes in assets valued at current prices and d) Revaluations of inventories due to changes in the price of fixed assets.

Instead of fixed assets, economics also speaks of the capital stock .


Individual evidence

  1. Bundestag printed paper 16/10067 of July 30, 2008, p. 61
  2. ^ Wilhelm Frick, Accounting according to the Company Act , 2009, p. 149
  3. Federal Statistical Office - Economy and Statistics 10/2005, p. 1027
  4. Glossary of the National Accounts Working Group ( Memento of February 2, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  5. Federal Statistical Office: Replacement prices ( Memento from November 15, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  6. Federal Statistical Office: Net fixed assets at replacement prices ( Memento of March 24, 2014 in the Internet Archive )