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Payers are in the business administration in a company manufactured products or services . Not to be confused with the cost bearers in social law ( service providers ).


A company is interested in breaking down the total costs incurred in a cost calculation in order to gain information about the cost trend and the proportions of individual costs in the total costs and to find ways of cost management for cost reductions, for example by eliminating weak points . For this, the business administration that has cost types and cost type accounting , the cost centers and cost center accounting and cost unit developed with the cost accounting. This covers all aspects under which a cost analysis can take place.

Costs per cost unit

Allocating the total costs to cost units only makes sense for multi-product companies with joint production , because the total costs have arisen from all manufactured products and it is therefore of interest for the cost allocation principle to determine the cost shares for each individual product type. In addition to the on the market to be sold finished products also can intermediates or internal activities ( own work ) are defined as payers. The average costs are determined for each product type (cost unit) as follows:

However, the average costs per cost unit are too imprecise because they do not reflect the actual cost causation of a cost unit. Therefore, a special cost unit accounting is required, which can determine the actual cost cause of a cost unit.

Cost unit accounting

Cost unit accounting specifies which products, as cost units, have incurred certain costs. After the costs according to consumer goods have been recorded in the cost type accounting and the costs have been shown in the cost center accounting according to the place where the costs were incurred, the cost unit accounting offsets the total costs to the cost units. The direct costs are usually easy to allocate because they were triggered by a specific cost unit (for example, in the automotive industry, four or five tires per vehicle). However, difficulties are the overhead costs as they are incurred for all types of products (such as the personnel costs of the administration ). Here, distribution keys ensure an arbitrary and differentiating distribution.

Once the costs per cost unit have been determined, they are determined as unit costs for the individual end product. This is also the prime cost , which in turn forms the basis of the price calculation . It is therefore not only necessary to determine the costs caused by a certain type of product because of the cost allocation principle, but also because of the price determination.

Limits of cost unit accounting

In many cases, cost unit accounting is only suitable to a limited extent for making decisions about the profitability of a product. Let's take an example from the software industry. A company develops two products, A and B. For product B, parts of A can be reused. That means: B does not have to be developed from scratch. In this case, what about the costs of B? Shouldn't the development costs of B also include those for the parts reused by A? But then they would exist twice. So you split the common costs into an item called C. The A reduced by C is now Aa. How much do you add to Aa and B each from C? Half or do you do it proportionately to the cost of Aa and B? Both would lead to a distorted picture. A (including C) could be highly profitable in and of itself. B without C could also be profitable. If you now add part of C to B, B could become unprofitable. But that's not true, because in this case the company always does better when it develops A and B than just A. A schematic application of cost unit accounting would therefore lead to a wrong decision here.

Sensible use of cost unit accounting

The example of the software industry makes it clear that costs can often not be assigned exactly to a specific product. One can then only determine the costs that a certain product mix causes and compare these with the costs and revenues that another product mix would cause. The use of cost unit unit accounting and cost unit time accounting can be inexpedient. Instead, the costs that a product incurs over its entire lifetime must be taken as a starting point. Cost unit accounting helps to get an idea of ​​the costs a product causes. For complex products, e.g. B. motor vehicles, it is downright indispensable if you do not want to lose track. However, as the examples have shown, it must be tailored to the specific conditions of a company.

Cost unit time accounting

Here the costs are recorded within a billing period and assigned to a cost unit. Take a consulting company with permanent employees, whose capacities are not always fully utilized, as an example. The cost unit "consulting" causes high fixed costs, namely the salaries of the employees. These costs are then compared with the monthly income from the consulting services. So you always have an impression of how profitably the company is working.

The cost unit time sheet

The cost unit time sheet is an aid in tabular form. The cost unit time accounting and profitability analysis are recorded in it. The cost unit time calculation ends with the determination of the cost of sales. In order to determine the sales result, the net sales revenue is subtracted from the previously determined cost. This profitability analysis is often of a short-term nature; it is mostly carried out monthly.


The following example assumes that only one cost object is produced. The individual costs are:

Manufacturing material Manufacturing wages Special direct costs of production
€ 87,000.00 € 39,000.00 € 2,500.00

The following actual overheads come from cost center accounting for the four main cost centers:

material production administration distribution
€ 5,046.00 € 39,000.00 € 5,000.00 € 7,500.00

The following overhead surcharge rates on a normal cost basis were specified:

  • Material overhead surcharge rate: 10%
  • Manufacturing overhead rate: 105%
  • Administrative Overhead Surcharge Rate: 5%
  • Distribution overhead rate: 5%

The material overheads relate to the manufacturing material (MGK-ZS = MGK / MEK * 100), the manufacturing overheads to the manufacturing wages (FGK-ZS = FGK / FEK * 100), the administrative overheads relate to the manufacturing costs of production (VwGK-ZS = VwGK / HKproduction * 100) and the sales overhead costs on the manufacturing costs of the sales (VtGK-ZS = VtGK / HKumsatz * 100).

For the finished goods (FE) a shortage of stock worth € 2,100.00 is recorded, for the unfinished products (UE) an excess of stock worth € 4,235.00.

The net sales are € 210,000.00.

In the table shown, the actual costs were also calculated (their overhead rates were determined from the given values). The cost unit time calculation is shown up to the cost. The bluish part represents the profitability analysis.

designation Actual costs Actual surcharge Normal costs Normal surcharges difference
Manufacturing material € 87,000.00 € 87,000.00
Material overhead € 5,046.00 5.8% € 8,700.00 10.00% + € 3,654.00
material costs € 92,046.00 € 95,700.00 + € 3,654.00
Manufacturing wages € 39,000.00 € 39,000.00
Manufacturing overhead € 39,000.00 100.00% € 40,950.00 105.00% + € 1,950.00
Special direct costs of production € 2,500.00 € 2,500.00
Manufacturing costs € 80,500.00 € 82,450.00 + € 1,950.00
Manufacturing costs of production € 172,546.00 € 178,150.00 + € 5,604.00
Stock reduction FE € 2,100.00 € 2,100.00
Inventory increase UE - € 4,235.00 - € 4,235.00
Manufacturing cost of sales € 170,411.00 € 176,015.00 + € 5,604.00
Administrative overheads € 5,000.00 2.90% € 8,800.75 5.00% + € 3,800.75
Distribution overheads € 7,500.00 4.40% € 8,800.75 5.00% + € 1,300.75
Cost € 182,911.00 € 193,616.50 + € 10,705.50
Net sales € 210,000.00 € 210,000.00
Sales result € 16,383.50
Cost coverage € 10,705.50
Operating profit € 27,089.00 € 27,089.00

Cost unit accounting

Here the costs are assigned to the individual service units, products, items.


When manufacturing a chocolate bar, there are costs for raw materials such as cocoa and sugar, rents for factory buildings, acquisition costs for machines, personnel costs, and administrative costs. These costs are posted to the "Chocolate bar" cost center, it bears the costs = cost unit.

Division calculation

  • It is used in single and multi-stage mass production and is essentially useful in single-product companies.
    • In the one-step division calculation, the direct costs and the overhead costs are allocated to the cost unit according to the principle of average. This is only possible with a constant stock of finished goods, which severely limits the applicability of this calculation method.
    • In the two-stage calculation, the manufacturing costs are allocated to the goods produced, but the sales overhead costs to the products sold. In this way, changes in stocks of finished products are taken into account.
    • In the multi-level calculation, the preliminary products are also taken into account, and changes in stocks of unfinished goods are also taken into account. The unit costs of each level are made up of the sum of the costs of the products received from the respective preliminary level and the level's own costs, allocated to the amount of units produced in the level
Unit costs = total costs / production volume or sales volume

Equivalence number calculation

The equivalence number calculation is an extension of the division calculation for type production . It can be used for goods that are very similar and have a constant cost ratio to one another (e.g. beer in 0.5 l and 0.33 l bottles). A reference product is selected that has the equivalence number 1 . The other products are given suitable equivalence numbers based on their cost ratio, which are set for several periods (e.g. 0.5 l ≙ 1; and 0.33 l ≙ 0.66). The equivalence numbers are used to convert the produced quantities of each variety to the standard variety:

Production quantity of the variety x equivalence number = unit quantity

Once the unit costs of the unit variety have been determined, the unit costs for each variety can be calculated simply by multiplying the unit costs by the equivalence number:

Unit costs of the variety = unit costs of the reference unit · equivalence number

To quickly calculate the equivalence number, the processing amount (time) is divided by the processing time marked with 1.


Equivalence number = 0.33l / 0.5 l = 0.66

Surcharge calculation

If the prerequisites for the division calculation or the equivalence number calculation are not met, the overhead calculation can be used in multi-product companies with a heterogeneous production program .

  • Application for series production or one-off production (contract production)
  • Assumes the separation into individual and overhead costs.
  • Individual costs are charged directly to the cost bearers, and overhead costs are "added" or offset using calculation rates.

One-step surcharge calculation

The total overhead costs are charged as a (single) surcharge. The basis of the award (reference value) are:

  • Individual material costs,
  • Individual labor costs (direct production costs) or
  • Total individual costs

Multi-level (selective) surcharge calculation

  • Breakdown of overhead costs into several partial amounts
  • Passing on to the cost units with the help of different surcharge bases
  • Objective: as good as possible fulfillment of the causation or stress principle


  • without recourse to cost center accounting
  • with recourse to cost center accounting

Otherwise analogous to the procedure for the summary overhead calculation.

Co-product costing

The joint calculation is used for goods that are manufactured in joint production. There are two methods of calculation

  • The market value calculation does not differentiate between main and by-products. The market prices are set in relation to one another and valuations are carried out analogously to the equivalence figure calculation. The manufacturing costs are then distributed based on these numbers.


= Number of co-products
= Revenue from co-product k (in €)
= Total revenue from co-products
= Total costs of co-products
= Cost of co-product k (in €)
  • The residual value method differentiates between main and by-products. The total costs are determined and the revenues from the by-products are set equal to their costs. The remaining costs are then interpreted as the costs of the main product. The disadvantage is that the unit costs determined for the main products depend on the revenues from the by-products.

See also


  • Harald Hungenberg, Lutz Kaufmann : cost management. Introduction in graph form. 2nd, revised and expanded edition. Oldenbourg, Munich et al. 2001, ISBN 3-486-25574-6 .
  • Germann Jossé: Basic knowledge of cost accounting. Cost types, cost centers, cost units , cost management (= dtv. Beck-Wirtschaftsberater in dtv 50811). 6th, revised edition. Deutscher Taschenbuch-Verlag et al., Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-423-50811-7 .
  • Andreas Schmidt: cost accounting. Basics of full cost, contribution margin and budgeted cost accounting as well as cost management. 4th, revised edition. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart et al. 2005, ISBN 3-17-018741-4 .
  • Volker Schultz: Basic knowledge of accounting. Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag, Munich 2011, ISBN 978-3-423-50815-5 .
  • Klaus Olfert: cost accounting. 17th edition. NWB Verlag, Herne 2013, ISBN 978-3-470-51107-8 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Cost units  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: cost unit accounting  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Marcell Schweitzer / Hans-Ulrich Küpper / Gunther Friedl / Christian Hofmann / Burkhard Pedell, systems of cost and revenue accounting , 2016, p. 176
  2. Andreas Schmidt, cost accounting: Basics of full cost, contribution margin and budgeted cost accounting as well as cost management , 1996, p. 113
  3. Sonja Prell-Leopoldseder, Fundamentals of Cost Accounting , 2010, p. 107
  4. Volker Schultz: Basic knowledge of accounting. Bookkeeping, accounting, cost accounting, controlling. (= Beck economic advisor). Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2nd edition, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-423-50815-9 , pp. 145-146.
  5. Volker Schultz: Basic knowledge of accounting. Bookkeeping, accounting, cost accounting, controlling. (= Beck economic advisor). Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2nd edition, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-423-50815-9 , p. 146.
  6. Volker Schultz: Basic knowledge of accounting. Bookkeeping, accounting, cost accounting, controlling. (= Beck economic advisor). Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2nd edition, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-423-50815-9 , pp. 146–147.
  7. Volker Schultz: Basic knowledge of accounting. Bookkeeping, accounting, cost accounting, controlling. (= Beck economic advisor). Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 2nd edition, Munich 2001, ISBN 3-423-50815-9 , pp. 146–151.