written by Khatabook | December 7, 2021

What are Direct and Indirect Expenses?

Running a business comes with excitement, along with unexpected costs, responsibilities, and difficulties. However, knowing how much money is going out of the firm and how much money is coming in is the first order of business. The purpose of any business is to make a profit at the end of the day. To do so, you'll need to track all of the money left by the company, from modest expenses like payroll and utility bills to significant ones like rent and production units. Therefore, you must first understand the sorts of expenses in the business and how to account for them before moving on to the profit side of the business and how to handle the accounting of the balance sheet and profit and loss statement. 

Understanding Direct and Indirect Expenses

There are two categories of expenses in every business: direct and indirect expenses. 

Hence, it's important to know which expenses go under which heading because it affects accounting and can also help with deductions and tax savings.

What are Expenses?

When you establish a business, you need to invest some funds to get it off the ground. Once the company is up and operating, regular expenses must be fulfilled on a daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly basis. While certain expenses are recurring, there may be some unanticipated costs that you haven't budgeted for or those that arise due to changes in business plans.

It is necessary to understand when and where expenses will be required so that the accounting process can be started immediately. Business organisations should also have an emergency fund to cover any unforeseen expenses that may arise during the business. These are the most important considerations to make when it comes to money leaving the company.

What are Direct Expenses?

As the phrase implies, "direct" expenses are directly tied to and assigned to a company's primary business operations. They are mostly concerned with the acquisition and production of commodities and services. Direct expenses are a component of a company's prime cost or the cost of products and services sold.

Direct expenses are directly tied to the manufacture of the product sold or the service performed, and they vary depending on the type of business, such as manufacturing, construction, or service. They are an element of a business's financial statement record used to maintain track of its spending.  These expenses are continually used to determine the price of a product or service. 

These expenses fluctuate with the pace of production, but they are consistent for each unit of output and are normally managed by the department manager. It is up to the business who produces its own goods and services to choose the rate for selling them as direct expenses. These expenses are used to calculate the company's gross profit. These costs are required to determine a product's significant cost. They are used to categorise and manage expenditures across departments.

Direct Expenses Examples-Cost of raw material, wages, Fuel, Factory rent, etc.

What are Indirect Expenses?

Indirect expenses are not immediately tied to and attributed to a company's primary business operations. Indirect expenses are important to keep a firm afloat, but they can't be immediately linked to the cost of the business's primary revenue-generating products or services.

The costs incurred in the day-to-day operations of a business are known as indirect expenses. They have nothing to do with the things that were sold. In many cases, indirect expenses are not assigned to any one region. This is especially true when it comes to administrative charges, such as rent. 

Direct expenses are costs incurred as a result of industrial overheads. These costs impact the products that were manufactured when the costs were incurred. Indirect costs cannot be added to the product's price. It should have no bearing on the sale price. Indirect costs are further separated into two types: fixed indirect costs and recurring indirect costs.

  • Indirect costs that are fixed for the duration of a project are referred to as fixed indirect expenses.
  • Indirect costs that are paid regularly are referred to as recurring indirect costs.

Indirect Expenses Examples-Telephone bills, printing and stationery, salaries, etc.

Importance of maintaining direct and indirect expenses

You must be able to keep adequate and correct financial records to manage a profitable business. That is why it is critical to understand the relevance of maintaining direct and indirect expenses.

  • Maintaining accurate financial records helps your company stay tax compliant, as required by law. 
  • It's critical to enter your indirect expenses in the appropriate locations. This is integral for maintaining compliance but also to take advantage of tax deductions. 
  • Some advantages and tax deductions are available to business owners for certain indirect expenses. 
  • Certain indirect expenses, such as utilities necessary to keep your business running can be deducted from your taxes. This is especially true for entrepreneurs who run their businesses from their homes
  • Business is a difficult nut to crack, but you can be confident that you will give your competitors a run for their money if you have the correct tools. 
  • When it comes time to attract investors, the correctness of your financial records and the efficiency with which you run your business will be crucial. 
  • Financial investors are more inclined to put their money into a firm that is on top of their game and knows what they're doing rather than squandering it on a whim with a company that doesn't care about keeping accurate records. 

Your financial records serve as proof of a successful firm. It's critical to understand the difference between the two sorts of expenses, particularly when pricing your products. You may charge more competitively for your merchandise if you fully comprehend the exact expenses of product manufacture. 

Also Read: GST Rates in India – List of Goods and Service Tax Rates, Slab

Key differences between Direct and Indirect expenses

The following table shows the differences between Direct and Indirect Expenses -

Direct Expenses

Indirect Expenses

Direct expenses are those incurred during the production of a product or the provision of services.

Indirect Expenses are incurred in conjunction with day-to-day business activities.

Apart from direct material and direct pay, direct expenses may be linked to a specific location, customer, product, job, or process.

Indirect expenses are costs that cannot be explicitly identified or assigned to a cost object, task, or cost unit but can be apportioned to and absorbed by the cost object.

Direct Expenses are directly allocable to the cost object or cost unit in question.

Indirect Expenses are allocated to cost objects such as products, services, or departments.

Direct Expenses form part of the prime cost. 

Indirect expenses are usually treated as overheads.

Direct expenses are taken into account when calculating the cost of goods sold.

Indirect expenses are not included while calculating the cost of goods sold.

Direct expenses in trading account are normally recorded on the trading account's debit side.

Indirect expenses in profit and loss account are recorded on the profit and loss account's debit side.

Direct expenses are inevitable and must be incurred to continue operating and providing goods or services.

While indirect expenses are unavoidable, it is possible to cut back on them or merge a few of them to minimise the overall cost of indirect charges.

It is calculated to know the gross profit of the business.

It is calculated to know the net profit of the business.

It is vital to understand the actual cost of production

It is vital to understand the income statement of the business.

Direct Expenses examples- Labour wages, raw material cost, rent of the factory, etc.

Indirect Expenses examples- Printing and stationery bills, telephone bills, legal charges, etc.

Also Read: GST Latest News Every Business Owner Must Know


It is practically impossible to run a firm without incurring any costs. It's true that you have to spend money to make money. Therefore, you must allocate indirect and direct expenses properly. This will help you save money in the long run, especially if you need to cut production costs. It is always important to understand how expenses are divided based on the nature of one's business. A business should also prepare a list of indirect and direct expenses ahead of time. Before you start building your business model, be sure you understand all the direct and indirect expenses involved in the business.

We hope the article would have made you understand the various expenses and how they are divided into direct and indirect expenses along with various direct and indirect expenses examples. Also, it will provide with you information regarding the treatment of direct expenses in the trading account and treatment of indirect expenses in the profit and loss account.

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Q: What are some examples of indirect expenses?


Some indirect expenses examples include telephone expenses, printing and stationery expenses, office administration expenses, etc.

Q: What are some examples of direct expenses?


Some direct expenses examples are the cost of raw material, wages of labour, fuel, etc.

Q: Which type of expenses is used to calculate the gross profit of the company?


Direct expenses are calculated to know the gross profit of the company.

Q: Which type of expenses is used to calculate the net profit of the company?


Indirect expenses are calculated to know the net profit of the company.

Q: How do we treat wages in business-as direct or indirect expenses?


We take wages as a direct expense.

Q: In a profit and loss account, where do we put indirect expenses?


Indirect expenses in profit and loss account are recorded on the debit side.

Q: How Direct expenses are shown in a balance sheet/profit and loss?


Direct expenses in trading account are normally recorded on the debit side.

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