DEFINITION of 'Underapplied Overhead'

An accounting record in cost accounting where the overhead costs assigned for a work-in-progress product does not reach the amount of the actual overhead costs. Underapplied overhead is reported as a prepaid expense on the company's balance sheet and, at the end of the year, it is balanced by inputing a debit to cost of goods sold. Costs of goods sold is the direct cost associated with the production of goods sold by a company. The amount of underapplied overhead is referred to as an unfavorable variance.

BREAKING DOWN 'Underapplied Overhead'

For example, an overhead of $100,000 was incurred, but only $90,000 was applied. This is referred to as an unfavorable variance because it means that the budgeted costs were lower than actual costs and thus the cost of goods sold of the product were more than expected.


The initial predetermined overhead cost rate is calculated by taking the budgeted overhead costs divided by the budgeted activity.

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