Partial cost accounting

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Overview of partial cost accounting

Under costing refers to cost accounting methods in which only part of the costs incurred on the payers will be charged. Depending on the system, only the variable costs or the direct costs and the variable overhead costs are assigned to the cost unit in order to avoid the offsetting of fixed costs , as is practiced in the systems of full cost accounting . Partial cost accounting systems are direct costing , marginal cost and contribution margin accounting as well as relative direct cost accounting according to Paul Riebel. Depending on the treatment of fixed costs, a distinction is made between single-level and multi-level accounting systems.

Like all cost accounting methods, the retrospective analysis of partial cost accounting is unsuitable because it is not linked to the process that has already taken place in order to enable a controlling intervention in ongoing business processes.


In the medium and long term, a company has to cover all of its costs. With a decision system based purely on contribution margins, however, there is the risk that the contribution margins of the cost units are positive, but the number of products sold and consequently the total of the contribution margins is too low to cover the total of the fixed costs. It should also be noted that, in the long term, the fixed costs will also be variable and therefore relevant for decision-making.

The case law has also dealt with questions of full or partial cost accounting. The Reichsgericht had still - at least in times of war - assumed the full costs and a profit surcharge when determining a reasonable price . The Federal Court of Justice , however, fails to use the full cost model when determining the infringer's profit, but only approves part of the overhead costs (only variable overhead costs with a direct relationship to the service provided) and all individual costs. Fixed costs that would have been incurred as pure standby costs “anyway” may not be taken into account . The judgment had only become possible since the partial cost accounting had prevailed in business administration.


  • Marcell Schweitzer, Hans-Ulrich Küpper: Systems of cost and revenue accounting . Vahlen Franz GmbH, Munich 2003, ISBN 978-3-8006-3009-7 , p. 395 ff .

Individual evidence

  1. Armin Hegelheimer, Wirtschaftslenken und Preisintervention , 1969, p. 123
  2. a b BGH GRUR 2001, 329, 331 "Overhead judgment"