Book value

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Book value ( english book value , carrying amount ) is in the accounting of the value with which an asset to the balance sheet date in the balance sheet enabled or capital position passivated is.

The book value is therefore not necessarily the value that would be obtained as revenue if the goods were sold (this would instead be the liquidation value ).


The commercial law knows several value conventions . Value conventions are values ​​that can be objectively determined according to certain rules. These rules result from the Commercial Code and other accounting standards . The value conventions include in particular the acquisition and production costs , fair values ( market value and stock market value ), the "fair value" ( fair value ; Section 253 (3) sentence 3 HGB for fixed assets , Section 253 (4) sentence 2 HGB for current assets ) or the book value. Some value conventions are explained by legal definition (acquisition and production costs in § 255 Paragraph 1 and 2 HGB), others such as the book value are only mentioned and assumed to be known ( § 285 No. 18 and 19 HGB, § 312 Paragraph 1 HGB) . In tax law , value conventions are known as partial value , common value or unit value . In the Transformation Tax Act , the book value is the lowest possible valuation; in addition, the common value and intermediate value are permissible.

Determination of the book value

The acquisition and production costs of the assets form the starting value for determining the book value. These acquisition and production costs can change due to valuation measures on the next balance sheet date . As a rule, the valuation measures for fixed assets and current assets consist of depreciation or write-ups . Depreciation leads to a lower book value, write-ups to a higher book value than the original acquisition or production costs. Since the valuation measures are more or less limited by the lowest value principle , the book value is also influenced by the lowest value principle. The (residual) book value results from the equation:

In exceptional cases, the book value can be the same as the fair value if the depreciation corresponds to the actual value development (e.g. wear and tear ). The relationship between book value and fair value is shown in the following table:

    Fair Value (beizulegender Zeitwert)
    - planmäßige Abschreibungen
    - etwaige außerplanmäßige Abschreibungen
    + etwaige Zuschreibungen
    = Buchwert (fortgeführter fair value)

The lowest value principle is unknown internationally. The International Accounting Standards allow companies to value fixed assets either at cost or at revaluation amounts . With the latter method, the positive difference between the valuation at acquisition or production costs is to be added to the revaluation reserve in the balance sheet under “Equity” (IAS 16.39 for property , plant and equipment , IAS 38.85 for intangible assets ). This makes part of the hidden reserves visible, but not distributed due to a distribution block. Any increase beyond the (fictitious) amortized book value represents a revaluation which must be accounted for in accordance with IAS 36.118.

However, the concept of book value is not limited to assets alone. In the case of liabilities and liabilities , the book value generally corresponds to the repayment amount or, in the case of provisions in accordance with Section 253 (1) sentence 2 of the German Commercial Code, the settlement amount determined on the basis of prudent business judgment . Their book value corresponds to the probable claims against the company by a third party in the expected amount, assuming a reasonable consideration of all circumstances.

Book profit / book loss

All balance sheet items remain in the balance sheet with their book values ​​until they are removed from the company balance sheet through sale (assets), repayment (liabilities) or utilization (provisions). Until such time as this is removed from the balance sheet, the balance sheet items must be valued on the balance sheet dates. The (continued) book value is the result of this valuation. If their book value on the balance sheet date does not correspond to their original value, there is a book profit or book loss. A book profit (“accounting profit”) arises when the book value of an asset is exceptionally higher than its original acquisition or production cost. This can be done through attributions or re-evaluations. Both valuation measures can only be used to a very limited extent due to the lower-of-cost- or-market principle and realization principle that apply in Germany , namely in the case of a reversal of impairment (write-ups) or for companies with IAS accounting (revaluation). Accordingly, there is a book profit if

In the case of an accounting loss, the book value is correspondingly lower than the original value. Book losses arise as a result of special depreciation , increased depreciation, valuation discounts, tax-free reserves or assets that cannot be capitalized or that do not have to be capitalized.

In the case of unrealized book profits, corporations have a distribution block ( Section 58 (2a) AktG for AG / KGaA, Section 29 (4) GmbHG for GmbH), which means that these book profits must be allocated to the retained earnings . Book profits from revaluations are also subject to a distribution block in accordance with Article 7 (2) of Directive 2013/34 / EU (Balance Sheet Directive) and must be included in the revaluation reserve. Allocating book profits to equity is intended in both cases to prevent unrealized book profits from being distributed.

A distribution of book profits is only permitted if they are removed from the balance sheet through the sale of assets, repayment of liabilities or utilization of provisions. The realized book profits or book losses are then shown in the income statement as "Income / losses from the disposal of assets" under other operating income ( Section 275 (2) No. 4 HGB) or other operating expenses (Section 275 (2) No. 8 HGB).

Book value clause

Older partnership agreements in particular often contain the so-called book value clause as a severance payment clause , according to which the departing partner receives the book value of the capital share determined on the basis of the commercial or tax balance sheet . As a rule, however, the book value does not correspond to the actual share value. In individual cases, it can coincide by chance with the actual share value (market value), be higher, but usually it will be lower. The determination of the compensation based on a book value clause is therefore disadvantageous for the shareholder to be compensated. Commercial and tax balance sheets are not suitable for determining the company value in the event of a severance payment. If there is a disproportion between the book value determined on the basis of the balance sheet and the market value determined in accordance with Section 738 of the German Civil Code (BGB) , a shareholder's right of termination is restricted in an inadmissible manner.

Application in company valuation

With regard to an entire company, the book value describes the value of the equity attributable to the owners of the company in the context of the valuation of companies . For this purpose, all assets are reduced by liabilities and special items , in the group also by non-group shares. In an alternative procedure, the intangible assets are also deducted.

The economic key figure book value / share indicates the amount of the shareholders' equity per share .

The book value only takes into account the reported value of the assets, but not possible hidden reserves or hidden charges . The accounting system used (for example, HGB , US-GAAP or IFRS ) also leads to different valuations in the balance sheet, so that the reported book values ​​can differ - sometimes significantly.

A more meaningful number for the company valuation, which is based on the market or replacement value of the assets , is the intrinsic value . However, this is not defined by accounting systems.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Bernd Klingels, The cash generating unit according to IAS 36 in the IFRS annual financial statements , 2005, p. 9
  2. Bettina Christina Noll, Tax loss strategies in the transformation of corporations , 1999, p. 28
  3. from June 26, 2013, OJ. L 182/19
  4. BGH , judgment of September 24, 1984, Az. II ZR 256/83, full text = NJW 1985, 192 f.
  5. BGH, judgment of May 24, 1993, Az. II ZR 36/92, full text = NJW 1993, 2101.
  6. BGH, judgment of September 20, 1993, Az. II ZR 104/92, full text = NJW 1993, 3193.