The basis for reporting property and equipment is historical cost. What amounts are included in determining the cost of such assets? Assume, for example, that Wal-Mart purchases a parcel of land and then constructs one of its retail stores on the site. Wal-Mart also buys a new cash register to use at this outlet. Initially, such assets are reported at cost. For property and equipment, how is historical cost defined? Answer: In the previous chapter, the cost of a company’s inventory was identified as the sum of all normal and necessary amounts paid to get the merchandise into condition and position to be sold. Property and equipment is not bought for resale so this rule cannot be followed here without some modification. Instead, all expenditures are included within the cost of property and equipment if the amounts are normal and necessary to get the asset into condition and position to assist the company in earning revenues. That is their purpose: to generate profits by helping to create the sale of goods and services. Land can serve as an example. When purchased, the various normal and necessary expenditures made by the owner to ready the property for its intended use are capitalized to arrive at the cost to be reported. These amounts include payments made to attain ownership as well as any fees required to obtain legal title. If the land is acquired as a building site, money spent for any needed grading and clearing is also included as a cost of the land rather than as a cost of the building or as an expense. These activities readied the land for its ultimate use
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Buildings, machinery, furniture, equipment and the like are all reported in a similar fashion. For example, the cost of constructing a retail store includes money spent for materials and labor as well as charges for permits and the fees charged by architects and engineers. These are normal and necessary to get the structure into condition and position to help generate revenues. As another example, the cost of a new cash register might well include shipping charges, installation fees, and training sessions to teach employees to use the asset. These costs all meet the criterion for capitalization. They appear to be normal and necessary to permit use of the asset for its intended purpose.
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