Small Business Glossary

Amortisation - definition & overview


Amortisation allocates the cost of an intangible asset over its estimated useful life.

Amortisation is a term that is commonly used in the world of finance and small businesses. It is a concept that is integral to understanding how loans, mortgages, and other financial instruments work. In its simplest form, amortisation refers to the process of gradually reducing a debt over a fixed period of time through regular payments. These payments are typically a blend of principal and interest.

Amortisation is not just a dry financial term but a beacon of hope and a testament to the power of consistent effort. It is a concept that embodies the spirit of perseverance and the belief in the possibility of overcoming financial burdens, one step at a time. It is a testament to the fact that even the largest of debts can be conquered with regular, disciplined payments.

Understanding Amortisation

At the heart of amortisation is the principle of paying off a debt over time. This is achieved by making regular payments that go towards both the principal amount (the original amount borrowed) and the interest accrued on that amount. The exact proportion of each payment that goes towards the principal and interest may vary over the course of the amortisation period, but the total payment amount typically remains constant.

Amortisation is a powerful tool for businesses and individuals alike. It allows for the acquisition of assets that may be too expensive to purchase outright, such as property or equipment, by spreading the cost over a longer period. This can provide a pathway to growth and prosperity that may otherwise be out of reach.

Amortisation Schedule

An amortisation schedule is a detailed breakdown of each payment over the course of the amortisation period. It shows the amount of each payment that goes towards the principal and the amount that goes towards interest. As the debt is paid down, the interest portion of each payment decreases and the principal portion increases.

The amortisation schedule is a roadmap to debt freedom. It provides a clear picture of how each payment contributes to reducing the debt and how much is left to be paid. It can be a source of motivation and a tool for planning and budgeting.

Amortisation Period

The amortisation period is the length of time over which the debt is to be paid off. This can range from a few years to several decades, depending on the nature of the debt and the terms of the loan. The length of the amortisation period can significantly impact the size of the regular payments and the total amount of interest paid over the life of the loan.

Choosing the right amortisation period is a crucial decision that can have long-term financial implications. A shorter amortisation period means higher regular payments but less interest paid overall, while a longer amortisation period means lower regular payments but more interest paid overall. It is a balance between affordability and cost-effectiveness.

Types of Amortisation

There are two main types of amortisation: straight-line (or linear) amortisation and declining balance amortisation. Each type has its own characteristics and is suited to different situations.

Straight-line amortisation involves equal payments over the life of the loan, with each payment consisting of a portion of the principal and a portion of the interest. Declining balance amortisation involves payments that decrease over time, with the initial payments being mostly interest and the later payments being mostly principal.

Straight-Line Amortisation

Straight-line amortisation is the most common type of amortisation. It is straightforward and easy to understand, making it a popular choice for many borrowers. The regular payments are calculated in such a way that the debt is completely paid off by the end of the amortisation period.

One of the main advantages of straight-line amortisation is its predictability. The regular payments remain constant over the life of the loan, making it easier to budget and plan for. However, it also means that the initial payments are mostly interest, with only a small portion going towards the principal.

Declining Balance Amortization

Declining balance amortisation is less common but can be advantageous in certain situations. In this type of amortisation, the regular payments decrease over time. The initial payments are mostly interest, but as the principal is paid down, the interest portion of each payment decreases and the principal portion increases.

This type of amortisation can be beneficial for borrowers who expect their income to decrease over time, as it allows for larger payments initially when their income is higher and smaller payments later when their income is lower. However, it can be more difficult to budget for due to the changing payment amounts.

Amortisation in Business

In the world of business, amortisation has a slightly different meaning. It refers to the gradual writing off of the cost of an intangible asset over its useful life. This is similar to depreciation, which is used for tangible assets. The purpose of this is to spread the cost of the asset over the period during which it is expected to generate revenue.

Amortisation in this context is a key concept in accounting and financial reporting. It allows businesses to accurately reflect the value of their assets and the cost of their operations. It also provides a way to recover the cost of investments in intangible assets, such as patents, trademarks, and goodwill.

Amortisation of Intangible Assets

Intangible assets are non-physical assets that have value to a business. These can include things like patents, trademarks, copyrights, and goodwill. These assets often have a significant cost, but their value is not realised all at once. Instead, their value is realised over time as they contribute to the generation of revenue.

Amortisation is the process of gradually writing off the cost of these intangible assets over their useful life. This is done by making regular amortisation charges against the business's income. These charges reduce the value of the asset on the balance sheet and are reflected as an expense on the income statement.

Amortisation of Goodwill

Goodwill is a special type of intangible asset that represents the excess of the purchase price of a business over its net asset value. It can include things like the value of a strong brand, a loyal customer base, and a skilled workforce. Goodwill is not amortised in the same way as other intangible assets. Instead, it is tested for impairment on a regular basis.

If the value of the goodwill is found to be less than its carrying amount on the balance sheet, an impairment charge is made. This charge reduces the value of the goodwill and is reflected as an expense on the income statement. This process ensures that the value of the goodwill is accurately reflected on the business's financial statements.

Amortisation and Taxation

Amortisation can have significant tax implications for businesses. In many jurisdictions, the amortisation of intangible assets and the interest portion of loan payments are tax-deductible expenses. This can reduce the business's taxable income and, therefore, its tax liability.

However, the rules around the tax deductibility of amortisation can be complex and vary from one jurisdiction to another. It is important for businesses to seek professional advice to ensure they are complying with the relevant tax laws and taking full advantage of any tax benefits available to them.

Amortisation and Tax Deductibility

The tax deductibility of amortisation depends on the nature of the expense and the tax laws of the jurisdiction. In general, the amortisation of intangible assets and the interest portion of loan payments are tax-deductible. However, the principal portion of loan payments is not tax-deductible.

The tax deductibility of amortisation can provide a significant financial benefit to businesses. By reducing their taxable income, businesses can reduce their tax liability and increase their after-tax profits. This can free up cash flow and provide additional resources for growth and expansion.

Amortisation and Tax Planning

Understanding the tax implications of amortisation is an important part of tax planning for businesses. By strategically planning their amortisation expenses, businesses can optimise their tax position and maximise their after-tax profits.

For example, a business might choose to accelerate the amortisation of certain assets in order to reduce its taxable income in a particular year. Alternatively, it might choose to defer the amortisation of certain assets in order to increase its taxable income in a particular year. These decisions can have a significant impact on the business's tax liability and cash flow.


Amortisation is a powerful concept that can help businesses and individuals manage their debts and investments. Whether it's paying off a loan, writing off the cost of an intangible asset, or planning for taxes, understanding amortisation can open up new possibilities and pathways to financial success.

So, let's embrace the concept of amortisation. Let's see it not just as a financial term but as a symbol of hope and a testament to the power of consistent effort. Let's use it as a tool to conquer our financial challenges and achieve our financial dreams. After all, every journey begins with a single step, and every debt can be conquered with a single payment.

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