Attribution (accounting)

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In commercial , accounting and tax law, write-up is the increase in the book value of an asset compared to the previous financial year due to an increase in value. Technically, the book value chosen in the previous year will be adjusted to the higher valuation in the current financial year. Depreciation is a complementary term .


Assets on the balance sheet often do not retain the value that was assigned to them when they were acquired or manufactured. Rather, changes in value can occur during their use in the company. Negative changes in value must be taken into account with depreciation. If, on the other hand, increases in value occur, for example increases in the market price (in the case of listed securities, for example, the stock exchange price ), a write-up may have to be made in accordance with the respective accounting regulations.

A distinction must be made between write-ups in value changes due to substantial changes to the asset, for example due to subsequent modifications and expansions. The subsequent activation of components that were originally booked as expenses must also be differentiated from the write-up.

Regulations in Germany


Under German commercial and tax accounting law, write-ups beyond the (amortized) acquisition or production costs are prohibited ( Section 253 (1) sentence 1 HGB). This results from the strict realization principle . Therefore, the write-up is materially limited to the cancellation of previous write-downs ( write-ups ).

In May 2009, the BilMoG created a general requirement to increase the value of fixed and current assets for all legal forms ( Section 253 (5) sentence 1 of the German Commercial Code ). The requirement for a reversal of impairment is to be understood as the legal requirement that for certain assets, regardless of their legal form, an increase in book value must be made compared to the previous balance sheet if the stock exchange prices or market prices have risen again after a previously carried out unscheduled depreciation .

In terms of tax law , Section 6 (1) No. 2 EStG also contains a requirement to increase the value. Assets that were already part of the fixed assets of the taxpayer reporting at the end of the previous financial year are to be recognized at amortized cost in the following financial years, unless the taxpayer proves that a lower partial value can be applied. If the reason for an impairment no longer applies, the depreciation must be reversed by a reversal of the value up to the amount of the acquisition costs, increasing the tax ( Section 6 Paragraph 1 No. 1 Sentence 4 EStG).

The write-up is mandatory for all companies, which is intended to reduce the potential for accounting policy. For corporations nothing has changed as a result of the BilMoG, because the - now omitted - § 280 HGB old version already contained a requirement to increase the value. The introduction of the requirement to reinstate the value ( Section 6 Paragraph 1 No. 2 Sentence 3 in conjunction with Section 6 Paragraph 1 No. 1 Sentence 4 EStG ) instead of the valuation option that existed until May 2009 was not arbitrary either in terms of subject matter or time, not even insofar as this includes increases in value from the time before the change in law; Therefore, the BFH considers today's requirement to increase the value to be constitutional.

Only goodwill acquired against payment in accordance with Section 253 (5) sentence 2 of the German Commercial Code (HGB) is excluded from the requirement to increase the value ; it is even subject to a prohibition on reversing the value. The derivative goodwill must be capitalized in accordance with Section 246, Paragraph 1, Clause 4 of the German Commercial Code (HGB), so the question arises as to how changes in value affect the accounting treatment of this asset. From a tax point of view, a write-down must be carried out after a partial write-down. Under commercial law, there is now a prohibition on reversing the value of goodwill acquired against payment; According to the principle of relevance , the prohibition of reversal of impairment should also remain in place for tax purposes.

Credit institutions

Section 340c HGB creates - contrary to the gross principle otherwise applicable in accounting - for credit institutions a set- off optionfor income from write-ups and expenses from write-downs both in the trading book ( Section 340c (1) HGB; compulsory offsetting) and in the banking book ( Section 340c (2) HGB; Netting option). This results in less transparency compared to non-banks due to the offsetting option granted.


The accumulated depreciation from previous years is to be reduced in property, plant and equipment by the write-ups of the previous year. If there are reversals in value, the tax effects of unrealized losses are reversed. Like their counterparts, write-ups have an impact on earnings. According to Section 275 (2) No. 4 of the German Commercial Code (HGB), write-ups automatically result in “income from write-ups”, which must be shown under “other operating income” on the balance sheet date . They increase the annual surplus or reduce a loss. This income was neither generated nor realized through the operational business. For this reason, the legislature allows a distribution block for stock corporations and KGaA ( Section 58 (2a ) AktG ) and for GmbH ( Section 29 (4 ) GmbHG ) in order to prevent unrealized book profits from reversals from being distributed to the shareholders. This means that all corporations can, with the approval of the supervisory board, decide to block the distribution of income from write-ups.

International Financial Reporting Standards

According to IFRS , write-ups on capitalized assets can or must, depending on the circumstances, also be made beyond the historical costs. This is always the case when assets are accounted for at fair value . If fair value accounting is carried out using the revaluation model , write-ups beyond the historical costs are to be counter-posted to equity with no effect on income, so that the income statement is not (initially) affected. When applying the fair value model , also known as full fair value accounting, write-ups above and beyond the historical costs must be recognized immediately in profit or loss.

In the case of items that are accounted for at (amortized) acquisition or production costs, no write-ups beyond this may be made. The procedure here corresponds to that in German commercial accounting.

According to IFRS, there is a general requirement to increase the value.

Individual evidence

  1. BT-Drs. 16/10067 of July 30, 2008, p. 36
  2. BT-Drs. 16/10067 , p. 57
  3. BFH, judgment of February 25, 2010, Az. IV R 37/07, BStBl. II 2010, p. 784, full text .
  4. ^ Wilhelm Frick, Accounting according to the Company Act , 2007, p. 111