DEFINITION of 'Write-Down'

Reducing the book value of an asset because it is overvalued compared to the market value. A write-down typically occurs on a company's financial statement, when the carrying value of the asset can no longer be justified as fair value and the likelihood of receiving the cost (book value) is questionable at best.


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Write-downs are typically reflected in a company's income statement as an above-the-line expense, thereby reducing net income. This, however, is not always a bad thing, since a write-down is simply a paper loss, which, since it lowers net income, will reduce a firm's tax burden. Companies will usually attempt to time large write-downs together, so they can "take a bath" in one reporting period with the hope of quickly recovering in the next period.

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