DEFINITION of 'Capitalize'

An accounting method used to delay the recognition of expenses by recording the expense as long-term assets.

In general, capitalizing expenses is beneficial as companies acquiring new assets with a long-term lifespan can spread out the cost over a specified period of time. Companies take expenses that they incur today and deduct them over the long term without an immediate negative affect against revenues.


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BREAKING DOWN 'Capitalize'

If a company capitalizes regular operating expenses, it is doing so inappropriately, most likely to artificially boost its operating cash flow and look like a more profitable company. Because a company can't hide its expenses forever, such a practice will fail in the long run.

It is important not to confuse capitalize with capitalization.

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  1. Can working capital be depreciated?

    Working capital as current assets cannot be depreciated the way long-term, fixed assets are. In accounting, depreciation ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do working capital funds expire?

    While working capital funds do not expire, the working capital figure does change over time. This is because it is calculated ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How much working capital does a small business need?

    The amount of working capital a small business needs to run smoothly depends largely on the type of business, its operating ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What does high working capital say about a company's financial prospects?

    If a company has high working capital, it has more than enough liquid funds to meet its short-term obligations. Working capital, ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How can working capital affect a company's finances?

    Working capital, or total current assets minus total current liabilities, can affect a company's longer-term investment effectiveness ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What can working capital be used for?

    Working capital is used to cover all of a company's short-term expenses, including inventory, payments on short-term debt ... Read Full Answer >>

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