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What is 'Paid-In Capital'

Paid-in capital is the amount of capital "paid in" by investors during common or preferred stock issuances, including the par value of the shares themselves. Paid-in capital represents the funds raised by the business from selling its equity, and not from ongoing operations.

Paid-in capital also refers to a company's balance sheet entry listed under stockholders' equity, often shown alongside the balance sheet entry for additional paid-in capital.

BREAKING DOWN 'Paid-In Capital'

Paid-in capital, also referred to as contributed capital, can be compared with additional paid-in capital, and the difference between the two values will equal the premium paid by investors over and above the par value of the shares. Preferred shares sometimes have par values that are more than marginal, but most common shares today have par values of just a few pennies. Because of this, "additional paid-in capital" tends to be representative of the total paid-in capital figure, and is sometimes shown by itself on the balance sheet.

Additional Paid-in Capital

For common stock, paid-in capital consists of a stock's par value and additional paid-in capital, the amount of capital in excess of par or the premium paid by investors in return for the shares issued to them. Additional paid-in capital can provide a significant part of a company's equity capital before retained earnings start accumulating and is an important capital layer of defense against potential business losses after retained earnings have shown a deficit. Short of the retirement of any shares, the account balance of paid-in capital, specifically the total par value and the amount of additional paid-in capital, should remain unchanged as a company carries on its business.

Paid-in Capital From Sale of Treasury Stock

Companies may buy back shares and return some capital to shareholders from time to time. The shares bought back are listed within the shareholders' equity section at their purchase cost as treasury stock, a contra-equity account that reduces the total balance of shareholders' equity. If the treasury stock is sold at above its purchase cost, the gain is credited to an account called paid-in capital from treasury stock as part of shareholders' equity. If the treasury stock is sold at below its purchase cost, the loss reduces the company's retained earnings. If the treasury stock is sold at equal to its purchase cost, the removal of the treasury stock simply restores shareholders' equity to its pre-share-buyback level.

Paid-in Capital From Retirement of Treasury Stock

Companies may also retire some treasury shares, which is another way to remove treasury stock other than reissuing it. The retirement of treasury stock reduces the balance of paid-in capital or the amount of total par value and additional paid-in capital, applicable to the number of retired treasury shares. Depending on whether the initial purchase cost of the treasury stock is lower or higher than the amount of paid-in capital relevant to the number of shares removed, either something called paid-in capital from retirement of treasury stock is credited to shareholders' equity section, or retained earnings are debited for the additional loss of value in shareholders' equity.

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