What is Relevant Cost?

Incremental cost includes raw material inputs, direct labor cost for factory workers, and other variable overheads, such as power/energy and water usage cost. A relevant cost is a cost that only relates to a specific management decision, and which will change in the future as a result of that decision. The relevant cost concept is extremely useful for eliminating extraneous information from a particular decision-making process. Also, by eliminating irrelevant costs from a decision, management is prevented from focusing on information that might otherwise incorrectly affect its decision.

The calculation of incremental cost shows a change in costs as production expands. Incremental cost is usually computed by manufacturing entities as a process in short-term decision-making. It is calculated to assist in sales promotion and product pricing decisions and deciding on alternative production methods. Incremental cost determines the change in costs if a manufacturer decides to expand production. Incremental cost is important because it affects product pricing decisions.

Incremental revenue is compared to baseline revenue to determine a company’s return on investment. The two calculations for incremental revenue and incremental cost are thus essential to determine the company’s profitability when production output is expanded. The calculation of incremental cost needs to be automated at every level of production to make decision-making more efficient. There is a need to prepare a spreadsheet that tracks costs and production output. This is in contrast to an irrelevant cost, or sunk cost, which is any expense that already exists and will not change, regardless of the decision at hand.


Sunk, or past, costs are monies already spent or money that is already contracted to be spent. A decision on whether or not a new endeavour is started will have no effect on this cash flow, so sunk costs cannot be relevant. It’s worth noting that what may be considered a relevant or irrelevant cost will depend on each individual situation and context of a particular decision being made. Therefore, identifying which expenses fall into which category requires careful analysis of each specific scenario.

Opportunity CostsCash inflow that will be sacrificed as a result of a particular management decision is a relevant cost. Committed CostsFuture costs that cannot be avoided are not relevant because they will be incurred irrespective of the business decision bieng considered. Relevant cost, in managerial accounting, refers to the incremental and avoidable cost of implementing a business decision. Therefore, it is worth buying in as incremental revenue exceeds incremental costs. Annual insurance cost – this is a relevant cost as this is an additional fixed cost caused by the decision to invest.

  • Machine running costs – the machine is already fully utilised on Operations 1 and 2 and will remain fully utilised, but only on Operation 2.
  • Classifying costs as either irrelevant or relevant is useful for managers making decisions about the profitability of different alternatives.
  • Another example could be when deciding whether to outsource production overseas or keep it in-house.
  • For example, the Archaic Book Company (ABC) is considering purchasing a printing press for its medieval book division.
  • Lease rentals are a committed cost which cannot be avoided by withdrawing from this order which is why they should be ignored for the purpose of this analysis.

If the vendor can provide the component part at a lower cost, the furniture manufacturer outsources the work. Additionally, sunk costs – expenses that have already been incurred and cannot be recovered -are irrelevant when it comes to making future business decisions as there’s no way around them. One primary characteristic of irrelevant costs is that they cannot be avoided even if a specific decision is taken or not. For example, rent expenses for an office space would remain constant regardless of whether the company chooses to launch a new product line or not.

Incremental Cost

Classifying costs as either irrelevant or relevant is useful for managers making decisions about the profitability of different alternatives. Costs that stay the same, regardless of which alternative is chosen, are irrelevant to the decision being made. For example, the skilled labour which may be needed on a new project might have to be withdrawn from normal production. This withdrawal would cause a loss in contribution which is obviously relevant to the project appraisal.

What is Discretionary Fixed Cost?

If incremental cost leads to an increase in product cost per unit, a company may choose to raise product price to maintain its return on investment (ROI) and to increase profit. Conversely, if incremental cost leads to a decrease in product cost per unit, a company can choose to reduce product price and increase profit by selling more units. In contrast, irrelevant costs are costs that will not change after a decision is made. No matter what you decide, these costs will still be there, they are not “relevant” to the decision at hand. The book value of fixed assets like machinery, equipment, and inventory is another example of irrelevant sunk costs.

Simple Rate of Return Easy Business Decision Making

For example, the Archaic Book Company (ABC) is considering purchasing a printing press for its medieval book division. If ABC buys the press, it will eliminate 10 scribes who have been copying the books by hand. The wages of these scribes are relevant costs, since they will be eliminated in the future if management buys the printing press. However, the cost of corporate overhead is not a relevant cost, since it will not change as a result of this decision. A relevant cost is any cost that will be different among various alternatives.

Non cash flow costs are costs which do not involve the flow of cash, for example, depreciation and notional costs. A notional cost is a cost that will not result in an outflow of cash either now or in the future, for example sometimes the head office of an organisation may charge a ‘notional’ rent to its branches. This cost will only appear in the accounts of the organisation but will not result in a ‘real’ cash expenditure. Relevant costs and revenues are those costs and revenues that change as a direct result of a decision taken. They can be costs that are already in place and thus will be removed after the decision, or they can be new costs that would be incurred due to a decision. As these materials are not available in stock, these will have to be purchased at the market price which is their relevant cost.

The total fixed costs of $24m have been apportioned to each production line on the basis of the floor space occupied by each line in the factory. Say, for example, that 4 hours of labour were simply removed by ‘sacking’ an employee for four hours, one less unit of Product X could be made. Using the contribution foregone figure of $24 is the net effect of losing the revenue from that unit and also saving the material, labour and the variable costs. In this situation however, the labour is simply being redeployed so $24 understates the effect of this, as the labour costs are not saved. So, if you were evaluating the viability of a new production facility, then the rent of a building specially leased for the new facility is relevant. A sunk cost is an expenditure that has already been made, and so will not change on a go-forward basis as the result of a management decision.

Start with a free account to explore 20+ always-free courses and hundreds of finance templates and cheat sheets. Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years. Lease rentals are a committed cost which cannot be avoided by withdrawing from this order which is why they should be ignored for the purpose of this analysis.

In exam questions look out for costs detailed as differential, specific or avoidable. Material B – The 100 units of the material already in inventory has no other use in the company, so if it is not used on the new product, then the assumption is that it would be sold for $12/unit. If the new product is made, this sale won’t happen and the cash flow is affected. In addition, another 50 units are needed for the new product and these will need to be bought in at a price of $14/unit. A managerial accounting term for costs that are specific to management’s decisions. The concept of relevant costs eliminates unnecessary data that could complicate the decision-making process.

On the other hand, irrelevant costs do not vary based on the choices made by management. Examples of these include sunk costs – past expenses already spent on previous actions – fixed overheads such as rent or salaries unrelated to any specific project or product line. One way of identifying relevant costs is by analyzing each https://1investing.in/ cost item and evaluating its influence on the final outcome. Relevant costs are those that will change as a result of a specific decision or action taken by the business. These may include direct material and labor expenses, variable overheads, and any additional expenses incurred due to changes in production or operations.

A special order occurs when a customer places an order near the end of the month, and prior sales have already covered the fixed cost of production for the month. If a client wants a price quote for a special order, management only considers the variable costs to produce the goods, specifically material and labor costs. Fixed costs, such as a factory lease or manager salaries, are irrelevant because the firm has already paid for those costs with prior sales. Assume, for example, a passenger rushes up to the ticket counter to purchase a ticket for a flight that is leaving in 25 minutes.

In other words, it’s a cost that will change depending on whether you take a particular course of action or not. The cash flows of a single department or division cannot be looked at in isolation. It is always the effects on cash flows of the whole organisation which must be considered.

One key difference between relevant and irrelevant costs is their effect on future cash flows. Relevant costs have an impact on future cash flows, while irrelevant costs do not. For example, if you’re deciding whether or not to purchase new equipment for your business, only the additional revenue generated by the equipment should be considered as a relevant cost. Marginal cost is the change in total cost as a result of producing one additional unit of output. It is usually calculated when the company produces enough output to cover fixed costs, and production is past the breakeven point where all costs going forward are variable. However, incremental cost refers to the additional cost related to the decision to increase output.

Left Menu Icon
Right Menu Icon