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Goodwill Calculation for a Business Goodwill Goodwill Calculation for a Business

Goodwill (accounting)

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Goodwill in accounting is an intangible asset that arises when a buyer acquires an existing business. Goodwill represents assets that are not separately identifiable. Goodwill does not include identifiable assets that are capable of being separated or divided from the entity and sold, transferred, licensed, rented, or exchanged, either individually or together with a related contract, identifiable asset, or liability regardless of whether the entity intends to do so. Goodwill also does not include contractual or other legal rights regardless of whether those are transferable or separable from the entity or other rights and obligations. Examples of identifiable assets that are not goodwill include a company’s brand name, customer relationships, artistic intangible assets, and any patents or proprietary technology. The goodwill amounts to the excess of the “purchase consideration” (the money paid to purchase the asset or business) over the total value of the assets and liabilities. It is classified as an intangible asset on the balance sheet, since it can neither be seen nor touched. Under US GAAP and IFRS, goodwill is never amortized . Instead, management is responsible for valuing goodwill every year and to determine if an impairment is required. If the fair market value goes below historical cost (what goodwill was purchased for), an impairment must be recorded to bring it down to its fair market value. However, an increase in the fair market value would not be accounted for in the financial statements. Private companies in the United States , however, may elect to amortize goodwill over a period of ten years or less under an accounting alternative from the Private Company Council of the FASB.


  • 1 Calculating goodwill
  • 2 Modern meaning
  • 3 US practice
    • 3.1 History and purchase vs. pooling-of-interests
    • 3.2 Amortization and adjustments to carrying value
    • 3.3 Controversy
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References

Calculating goodwill[ edit ]

In order to calculate goodwill, the fair market value of identifiable assets and liabilities of the company acquired is deducted from the purchase price. For instance, if company A acquired 100% of company B, but paid more than the net market value of company B, a goodwill occurs. In order to calculate goodwill, it is necessary to have a list of all of company B’s assets and liabilities at fair market value.

 Fair market value Accounts Receivable $10 Inventory $5 Accounts payable $6 ------------------------- Total Net assets = $10 + $5 - $6 = $9

In order to acquire company B, company A paid $20. Hence, goodwill would be $11 ($20 – $9). The journal entry in the books of company A to record the acquisition of company B would be:

 DR Goodwill $11 DR Accounts Receivable $10 DR Inventory $5 CR Accounts Payable $6 CR Cash $20

Modern meaning[ edit ]

Goodwill is a special type of intangible asset that represents that portion of the entire business value that cannot be attributed to other income producing business assets, tangible or intangible. [1]

For example, a privately held software company may have net assets (consisting primarily of miscellaneous equipment and/or property, and assuming no debt) valued at $1 million, but the company’s overall value (including customers and intellectual capital ) is valued at $10 million. Anybody buying that company would book $10 million in total assets acquired, comprising $1 million physical assets and $9 million in other intangible assets. And any consideration paid in excess of $10 million shall be considered as goodwill. In a private company, goodwill has no predetermined value prior to the acquisition; its magnitude depends on the two other variables by definition. A publicly traded company , by contrast, is subject to a constant process of market valuation, so goodwill will always be apparent.

While a business can invest to increase its reputation, by advertising or assuring that its products are of high quality, such expenses cannot be capitalized and added to goodwill, which is technically an intangible asset . Goodwill and intangible assets are usually listed as separate items on a company’s balance sheet . [2] [3]

US practice[ edit ]

History and purchase vs. pooling-of-interests[ edit ]

Previously, companies could structure many acquisition transactions to determine the choice between two accounting methods to record a business combination: purchase accounting or pooling-of-interests accounting. Pooling-of-interests method combined the book value of assets and liabilities of the two companies to create the new balance sheet of the combined companies. It therefore did not distinguish between who is buying whom. It also did not record the price the acquiring company had to pay for the acquisition. Since 2001, U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (FAS 141) no longer allows the pooling-of-interests method.

Amortization and adjustments to carrying value[ edit ]

Goodwill is no longer amortized under U.S. GAAP (FAS 142). [4] FAS 142 was issued in June 2001. Companies objected to the removal of the option to use pooling-of-interests, so amortization was removed by Financial Accounting Standards Board as a concession. As of 2005-01-01, it is also forbidden under International Financial Reporting Standards . Goodwill can now only be impaired under these GAAP standards. [5]

Instead of deducting the value of goodwill annually over a period of maximal 40 years, companies are now required to determine the fair value of the reporting units, using present value of future cash flow, and compare it to their carrying value (book value of assets plus goodwill minus liabilities.) If the fair value is less than carrying value (impaired), the goodwill value needs to be reduced so the carrying value is equal to the fair value. The impairment loss is reported as a separate line item on the income statement, and new adjusted value of goodwill is reported in the balance sheet. [6]

Controversy[ edit ]

When the business is threatened with insolvency , investors will deduct the goodwill from any calculation of residual equity because it has no resale value.

The accounting treatment for goodwill remains controversial, within both the accounting and financial industries, because it is, fundamentally, a workaround employed by accountants to compensate for the fact that businesses, when purchased, are valued based on estimates of future cash flows and prices negotiated by the buyer and seller, and not on the fair value of assets and liabilities to be transferred by the seller. This creates a mismatch between the reported assets and net incomes of companies that have grown without purchasing other companies, and those that have.

While companies will follow the rules prescribed by the Accounting Standards Boards, there is not a fundamentally correct way to deal with this mismatch under the current financial reporting framework. Therefore, the accounting for goodwill will be rules based, and those rules have changed, and can be expected to continue to change, periodically along with the changes in the members of the Accounting Standards Boards. The current rules governing the accounting treatment of goodwill are highly subjective and can result in very high costs, but have limited value to investors.

See also[ edit ]

  • Intangible asset
  • Business valuation
  • Consolidation (business)
  • Control premium
  • Divestment
  • Enterprise value
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Subsidiary

References[ edit ]

  1. ^ Creation and Valuation of Business Goodwill
  2. ^ Intangible Assets Definition at Wikinvest
  3. ^ Goodwill Definition at Wikinvest
  4. ^ Summary of Statement No. 142
  5. ^ A Primer on Calculating Goodwill Impairment: Valuation Issues Raised by Financial Accounting Statement 142
  6. ^ Focus on Goodwill, Intangible Assets
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      Goodwill Calculation for a Business

      by Bryan Keythman

      Goodwill includes the value of customer relationships and other unidentifiable intangible assets.

      Goodwill includes the value of customer relationships and other unidentifiable intangible assets.

      Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images

      Related Articles

      • 1 Examples of Goodwill in Accounting
      • 2 What Is Goodwill and How Does It Affect Net Income?
      • 3 Calculate the Owner’s Equity in a Business
      • 4 What Is a Negative Goodwill in Accounting?

      Goodwill is a type of intangible, or nonphysical, asset a business records on its balance sheet when it buys another company. This account represents the premium a business pays for the acquired company’s intangible assets that can’t be specifically identified but that add value to its business. Such assets might include brand recognition and customer loyalty. Calculating goodwill is a complex process that requires your small business to value an acquired company’s identifiable assets individually.


      Goodwill equals the price paid for the acquired company minus the fair market value of its net identifiable assets. To figure “net” identifiable assets, subtract the liabilities on the acquired company’s balance sheet from the fair value of its identifiable assets. Identifiable assets include those listed on the company’s balance sheet, such as inventory, and certain other intangible assets. To consider an intangible asset that is absent from the balance sheet “identifiable,” it must originate from a contractual right or you must be able to sell it separately from the company. Such assets might include client contracts or patents.

      Valuing Identifiable Assets

      The fair market value of an identifiable asset is the amount for which you could sell it on the open market to a willing buyer. For assets that have specific market quotes, such as stocks, the fair value is simply its current market price. For assets sold less frequently, such as inventory, a business might use the market price of a similar item sold by another business. For assets with limited or no market data, such as patents, a business might use a financial model to value the asset based on estimates of the future cash flows it will generate.

      Goodwill Calculation Example

      Assume your small business pays $2 million for a company that has $1.6 million in identifiable assets and $200,000 in liabilities. The amount of net identifiable assets equals $1.4 million, or $1.6 million minus $200,000. Goodwill equals $600,000, or $2 million minus $1.4 million. This means you paid a $600,000 premium above the company’s net identifiable assets to acquire its unidentifiable assets, which add to its earning power. You would report goodwill of $600,000 in the noncurrent assets section of your balance sheet.


      Most businesses build goodwill internally by maintaining relationships with suppliers, training employees and growing their customer base. But a business can recognize only the goodwill of an acquired company on its balance sheet and not its own goodwill. A purchase transaction establishes a specific value for an acquired business from which you can calculate goodwill, whereas internally developed goodwill cannot be accurately determined.

      References (3)

      • Intermediate Accounting; Loren A. Nikolai et al.
      • Intermediate Accounting: Financial Reporting and Analysis; Curtis L. Norton et al.
      • Boundless: Calculating Fair Value

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      • Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images
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      Keythman, Bryan. “Goodwill Calculation for a Business.” Small Business –, Accessed 11 December 2018.
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