Cost principle

Also known as: Acquisition cost principle

Laut dem Anschaffungswertprinzip darf ein Vermögensgegenstand höchstens mit seinen acquisition cost beziehungsweise Herstellungskosten in der Bilanz vermerkt sein.

Definition / explanation

The acquisition value principle is a valuation principle from accounting, which aims at a truthful representation of the financial situation of a company. According to the principle, assets (on the assets side of the balance sheet) should be shown in the balance sheet at a maximum of their purchase or acquisition value or production costs. This is to prevent assets from being reported in the wrong amount.

Use of the acquisition costs

The balance sheet and the profit and loss account pursue the goal of truthfully informing the consumers within the company as well as the tax authorities and lenders about the economic performance of the company.

This includes that items of the current assets such as raw materials, consumables and supplies are not assigned a higher short-term market value. The historical price components at the time of purchase or creation are decisive for the valuation.

example - During the production process of complex machines and systems, considerable amounts of raw materials such as high-quality steel and the like are tied up. These and the raw materials in the production reserve will appear in the balance sheet at their acquisition cost.

Ultimately, the main reason for the procurement is not the commercial purpose, but the intention of further processing.

The acquisition cost principle and its implementation therefore also lead to Creation of hidden reserves: If land and buildings are used for the company and not sold, they are not "extrapolated" to the current value, but left in the balance sheet at the original values.


  • The cost principle ensures a realistic representation of the company's assets
  • Overvaluations in the balance sheet are avoided by not extrapolating values to the current value
  • Gläubiger erhalten eine Übersicht über eine Art „Mindestwert“ des Unternehmens, da viele hidden reserves nicht ersichtlich sind
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