Gross Fixed Assets and Net Fixed Assets

In today’s accounting tutorial we are looking at what is the difference between gross fixed assets and net fixed assets and why is this important.

If you are in a hurry, the only difference between the two is accumulated depreciation:

Gross Fixed Assets – Accumulated Depreciation = Net Fixed Assets

However, if you would like a little more information then please read on.

What Are Fixed Assets?

These are assets that the reporting entity intends to utilise beyond the next financial reporting period. So let’s say the balance date is 31 March X2, then if an asset is categorised as fixed this means the business intends to be using this asset beyond 1 April X3.

Of course the question of what an asset is desires a quick look here too. The International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Conceptual Framework defines an asset as an economic benefit(s) the reporting entity can control and arise from past events.

What is Accumulated Depreciation?

We aren’t going to go into too much detail about depreciation in this tutorial as we have a separate article covering it in detail, you can find that here. However, in summary, depreciation represents the consumption of economic benefits from an asset over an estimated useful life for the reporting entity. Or other words, it reflects the reducing utility that can be derived from the asset for the entity controlling it.

Accumulated depreciation is what they call a contra asset account. The reason being it is an “asset” account, however, it has a natural credit balance (of course it could have a zero balance, but shouldn’t have a debit balance). And is “set-off” against its respective asset account. Which is what we will look at next.

Fixed Gross Assets and Net Fixed Assets Disclosure Example

In our example, using ABC Ltd, let’s say they still own the digger they purchased back in March 20 for $850,000. It’s now March 31 and the accounting team is preparing the year-end accounts for management and external shareholders. And let’s say the digger is depreciated on a straight-line basis at 10 per cent. This keeps the blog maths easy for an accountant.

So all we have to work out in this simple example is what the depreciation is for the 11 days ABC has owned the digger for in the current financial year. The information we have is:

  • Purchase price: $850,000
  • Depreciation rate: 5% straight line
  • Number of days in the reporting period from purchase date: 11 days

$850,000 x 5 per cent x (11 / 365) = $1,281 (0 dp)

So the depreciation charge (expense) for the year ended is $1,281 on this asset. Now let’s move onto a few journal entries (can’t go wrong with a few debits and credits). As copies from our earlier article, the purchase entry would be:

DateAccount NameDebitCredit
March 20Plant Machinery$850,000

Now we have to bring to account the depreciation expense for the new digger:

DateAccount NameDebitCredit
March 31Depreciation$1,281
Accumulated Depreciation$1,281

Next is the financial reporting disclosure. You will find that the gross fixed asset figure is not disclosed in published accounts, instead the balance sheet (or statement of financial position) will just show the net fixed assets. If you are doing this work say for a test you might however include it. Whichever way you disclose it on your balance sheet the figures you will be using are:

  • Gross Fixed Asset: $850,000
  • Accumulated Depreciation: $1,281
  • Net Fixed Asset: $848,719

Below is an extract from ABC’s balance sheet, showing an example of how this disclosure could be done.


And that is about it for an explanation of fixed gross assets and net fixed assets. We look forward to your feedback on this article or any of our other work on the site.

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