# How to Account for Capitalized Interest: A Comprehensive Tutorial

#### Introduction to Capitalized Interest

Capitalized interest is the cost of borrowing funds to finance the construction of a long-term asset, which is then added to the cost of the asset rather than being expensed immediately. This treatment is common for large construction projects like buildings, equipment, or infrastructure, where the time it takes to build the asset means that interest costs accumulate over time.

Capitalizing interest, rather than expensing it right away, better aligns the cost of the asset with the revenues it generates over time. Once the asset is complete and operational, depreciation spreads the total cost (including the capitalized interest) over the asset’s useful life. This concept is grounded in the matching principle, which requires that expenses be matched with the revenues they help generate.

#### Step 1: Identify Capitalizable Interest Costs

The first step in capitalizing interest is to determine which costs qualify for capitalization. Interest costs can only be capitalized if they are directly attributable to the construction or production of the qualifying asset. In general, the types of projects that qualify for capitalized interest include:

• Buildings (offices, factories, warehouses, etc.)
• Infrastructure projects (bridges, tunnels, highways)
• Certain equipment and machinery that require substantial time to construct or prepare for use
• Ships, aircraft, and similar large-scale transportation assets

The borrowing costs are eligible for capitalization only during the period in which the asset is under construction or being prepared for its intended use.

#### Step 2: Calculate the Capitalizable Interest

To compute capitalized interest, three factors must be taken into account:

1. Qualifying Asset Costs: The amount spent on constructing or producing the asset.
2. Construction Period: The time over which the asset is constructed and interest accrues.
3. Interest Rate: The interest rate of the borrowings used to finance the construction. If no specific borrowing is made, a weighted average cost of borrowings is applied.

Let’s walk through a detailed example to illustrate how capitalized interest is calculated and accounted for.

#### Example: Capitalized Interest Calculation

Imagine ABC Corporation is constructing a new office building. The project is expected to take two years to complete, and ABC Corp has borrowed funds specifically for the project.

Assumptions:

• The construction costs are incurred over two years: \$1,500,000 in Year 1 and \$2,000,000 in Year 2.
• ABC Corp borrows \$3,500,000 at an interest rate of 5% to finance the project.
• The construction of the building began on January 1, Year 1, and was completed by December 31, Year 2.

### Year 1 Capitalized Interest Calculation

For Year 1, the interest costs eligible for capitalization are based on the construction costs incurred. We calculate the capitalized interest for each period by applying the interest rate to the qualifying construction costs for that period.

Interest calculation for Year 1:

• Interest on construction costs incurred on January 1, Year 1: \$1,500,000 * 5% = \$75,000.

Since the construction costs incurred in Year 1 will be capitalized for the entire year, the interest is calculated based on the full amount spent during the year.

### Year 2 Capitalized Interest Calculation

In Year 2, ABC Corp spends another \$2,000,000 on the project. Now, we need to calculate the interest for both the costs incurred in Year 1 (which are still under construction) and the new costs incurred in Year 2.

Interest calculation for Year 2:

• Interest on construction costs from Year 1: \$1,500,000 * 5% = \$75,000.
• Interest on construction costs incurred on January 1, Year 2: \$2,000,000 * 5% = \$100,000.

Total capitalized interest for Year 2 = \$75,000 (Year 1 costs) + \$100,000 (Year 2 costs) = \$175,000.

### Total Capitalized Interest

Total capitalized interest over the two-year construction period = \$75,000 (Year 1) + \$175,000 (Year 2) = \$250,000.

#### Step 3: Record the Journal Entries for Capitalized Interest

The next step is to record the journal entries to reflect the capitalized interest in the accounting records. In Year 1 and Year 2, the company will capitalize the interest on the construction project rather than expensing it immediately. The journal entries will be:

Year 1 Journal Entry:

``````Date: December 31, Year 1

Dr. Construction in Progress      \$75,000
Cr. Interest Payable                 \$75,000``````

This journal entry reflects the capitalization of interest on the construction costs for Year 1. The interest payable is recorded as the company still needs to settle its interest obligation.

Year 2 Journal Entry:

``````Date: December 31, Year 2

Dr. Construction in Progress     \$175,000
Cr. Interest Payable                 \$175,000``````

This journal entry reflects the capitalization of interest on the construction costs for Year 2.

#### Step 4: Transition from Construction in Progress to Fixed Asset

Once the project is completed and the asset is ready for use, the balance in the “Construction in Progress” account (which includes both the construction costs and the capitalized interest) is transferred to the appropriate fixed asset account.

In our example, on December 31, Year 2, ABC Corp completes the office building. The total construction cost is \$3,500,000 (the sum of costs incurred in Year 1 and Year 2), and the capitalized interest is \$250,000. The total amount to be transferred from “Construction in Progress” to “Buildings” is \$3,750,000.

The journal entry is as follows:

``````Date: December 31, Year 2

Dr. Buildings                     \$3,750,000
Cr. Construction in Progress            \$3,750,000``````

This entry reflects the reclassification of the construction costs and capitalized interest into the appropriate fixed asset account.

#### Step 5: Depreciating the Asset (Including Capitalized Interest)

Once the building is operational, it must be depreciated over its useful life. The depreciation expense will include both the direct construction costs and the capitalized interest. Depreciation spreads the cost of the asset over its expected life, in line with the matching principle.

Assume that the useful life of the building is 30 years and that ABC Corp uses the straight-line method of depreciation with no salvage value.

Annual Depreciation Calculation:

The depreciable base is the total amount transferred to the Buildings account, which is \$3,750,000. Under the straight-line method, annual depreciation is calculated as:

``Annual Depreciation = \$3,750,000 / 30 = \$125,000 per year.``

Depreciation Journal Entry:

``````Date: December 31, Year 3 (and subsequent years)

Dr. Depreciation Expense          \$125,000
Cr. Accumulated Depreciation          \$125,000``````

This journal entry records the depreciation expense for the year and accumulates it over time as the asset is used in the business.

#### Step 6: Reporting on the Financial Statements

Let’s now look at how capitalized interest impacts the financial statements.

1. Balance Sheet Impact: On the balance sheet, the capitalized interest increases the value of the asset being constructed. During the construction period, the Construction in Progress account will reflect the cumulative costs and interest. After the asset is completed, it is moved to the appropriate fixed asset account (e.g., Buildings). The impact is to increase the value of the long-term asset on the balance sheet.
2. Income Statement Impact: Instead of expensing the interest immediately as interest expense, the interest cost is capitalized and depreciated over the useful life of the asset. This means that during the construction period, no interest expense related to this project will appear on the income statement. However, once the asset is completed, depreciation expense (which includes the capitalized interest) will be reported on the income statement.
3. Cash Flow Statement Impact: On the cash flow statement, capitalized interest does not appear under operating expenses during the construction period because it is treated as part of investing activities. However, once the asset is in use, depreciation appears as a non-cash operating expense.

#### Example Financial Statement Impact

Here’s a simplified version of how the financial statements would look during and after the construction period for ABC Corp.

Balance Sheet (As of December 31, Year 2):

Income Statement (Year 3):

Cash Flow Statement (Year 2):

### Conclusion

Capitalized interest is an important aspect of accounting for large construction projects. By capitalizing interest, companies better match the costs of long-term assets with the revenues those assets generate. The process involves identifying the qualifying interest costs, calculating capitalized interest, recording journal entries during the construction period, and transitioning to depreciation once the asset is complete.

Capitalized interest has significant impacts on financial statements, as it affects the reported value of assets, interest expenses, depreciation, and cash flows. Understanding how to properly account for capitalized interest ensures that financial statements accurately reflect the true costs of long-term investments, leading to better decision-making and more accurate financial reporting.