When an intangible asset can no longer enhance future cash flow, it must be disposed of in your accounting records. Several circumstances may exist. The intangible asset may have:
Other circumstances could also apply, especially if special tax provisions covered purchase of the intangible asset. Regardless of the exact situation, the purchase cost of the intangible asset must be removed from the Intangible assets account and its accumulated amortization must be removed from Intangible assets, accumulated amortization. Otherwise, the balances of these two accounts would grow endlessly as the business purchases assets over the years, even if those assets are no longer owned. Finally, whether the intangible asset is sold or has merely lost its value, the difference between its book value and any amount recovered through disposal must be recorded, either as income or expense.
To dispose of an intangible asset, go to the Intangible Assets tab, click the Edit button for the asset disposed, check Disposed intangible asset, then enter the date of disposal.
ACME Industries’ electric controller patent becomes useless because the company discontinues products in which it is used, even though only two months of its anticipated life have passed. The disposal is recorded as below:
This transfers any book value of the asset to the Intangible assets - loss on disposal expense account and reduces the book value on the balance sheet to zero. Intangible assets - loss on disposal is a control account activated automatically when the Intangible Assets tab is enabled.
After ACME Industries’ disposal action, its Balance Sheet shows no balance for either Intangible assets or Intangible assets, accumuated amortization. The Profit and Loss Statement shows two months’ worth of amortization expense and the large remaining book value:
Unless ACME Industries can find a buyer for the patent, this situation will look like a serious business mistake.
Like intangible asset purchases and amortization, disposals are reported on the Intangible Asset Summary in the Reports tab:
Two methods can be used when a disposed intangible asset is sold. The first is to post a receipt in the Receipts & Payments tab to Intangible assets and the specific asset’s subaccount prior to recording disposal. This reduces the purchase cost balance, decreasing any loss on disposal. The second is to post the transaction to Intangible assets - loss on disposal after the fact. The net effects are the same.