Definition of Deferred Expense
A deferred expense refers to a cost that has occurred but it will be reported as an expense in one or more future accounting periods . To accomplish this, the deferred expense is reported on the balance sheet as an asset or a contra liability until it is moved from the balance sheet to the income statement as an expense. This is done to achieve the accountants' matching principle .
Examples of Deferred Expenses
Let's assume that a large corporation spends $500,000 in accounting, legal, and other fees in order to issue $40,000,000 of bonds payable . Instead of charging the $500,000 to expense in the year that the fees are paid, the corporation will defer the $500,000 to the contra liability account Bond Issue Costs. Then over the bonds' life of 25 years, the $500,000 will be amortized (systematically moved) to expense at the rate of $20,000 per year ($500,000 divided by 25 years).
Another example of a deferred expense is a $12,000 insurance premium paid by a company on December 27 for insurance protection during the upcoming January 1 through June 30. On December 27, the $12,000 is deferred to the balance sheet account Prepaid Insurance , which is a current asset account. Beginning in January it will be moved to Insurance Expense at the rate of $2,000 per month. The deferral was necessary to match the $12,000 to the proper year and months that the insurance is expiring and the company in receiving the insurance protection.