R&D cost accounting serves as an R&D controlling instrument for recording the payments made for R&D activities and their conversion into expenses and costs. For this purpose, in particular, the approach required from the period delimitation and the offsetting of depreciation on assets used over several periods must be carried out.
Because of the at least temporary, but also discontinuous, indirect funding of R&D, it may be necessary to separate cost accounting for tax purposes from cost accounting for other purposes. Direct state funding of individual projects can influence the design of the cost accounting system due to the calculation regulations to be observed (BKFT 75, LSP calculation for R&D). Whether one can speak of R&D costs at all or whether R&D expenditure is to be preferred as a term depends on the definitions of the term elements.
If one defines the deterministic and period-parallel performance reference as an element of the term costs, due to the nature of the R&D activities (stochastic and time-delayed input-output relationship with difficulties in output measurement), one can hardly speak of costs. With regard to the terms customary in accounting, there are ambiguities when applied to R&D, which is evident from the fact that - as can be seen from the strong annual differences resulting from payments for investments - payments for this area are occasionally issued as expenses or costs. For the design, Dellmann suggests a mutually linked financial, asset and income statement.
It allows differentiated accounting and at the same time provides relevant data for the R&D reporting system, which is also based on the requirements of the Accounting Directive Act (annual financial statement analysis). In particular, the proposed income statement would deserve a higher priority in practice in order to be able to come to better efficiency assessments. On the other hand, there are difficulties resulting from the character of R&D, which could most likely be eliminated if the area were not only organized as a cost center but as a profit center and thus entered into an exchange of services with other areas of the company such as with third parties. The counter-arguments must be countered by the fact that there are corporate R&D facilities that mainly work for third parties, as well as those that already work according to this principle.
At the level of individual projects, an “innovation result calculation” (innovation controlling) or an “integrated cost and performance analysis” is recommended. It has been shown empirically that an increasing differentiation in accounting in R&D is positively correlated with various measures of success.
Herkömmlich ist die Gliederung in F&E-Cost type accounting, F&E-Cost center accounting sowie F&E-Kostenträgerrechnung.