Overhead Rate Calculation: Accounting Explained

Having an accurate predetermined overhead rate helps companies better understand the full cost of production and set appropriate pricing levels. Tracking any differences between applied and actual overhead also allows companies to improve future overhead estimates. Most companies will adopt the use of predetermined overhead rates in order to know how their products are performing even before the accounting period ends. It is a way to constantly evaluate the profitability of manufacturing instead of waiting until that reporting period comes to an end. This is related to an activity rate which is a similar calculation used in Activity-based costing.

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This chapter will explain the transition to ABC and provide a foundation in its mechanics. Larger organizations may employ a different predetermined overhead rate in each production department, which tends to improve the accuracy of overhead application by employing a higher level of precision. However, the use of multiple predetermined overhead rates also increases the amount of required accounting labor. Include overhead costs like rent, utilities, taxes, and building maintenance. Other expenses that are considered overhead include inventory, raw materials, and labor costs. Let’s assume a company has overhead expenses that total $20 million for the period.


For the last three years, your team found that the total overhead rate has been between 1.7 and 1.8 times higher than the direct materials rate. As such, you and your peers have agreed to set the predetermined overhead rate at 175% of the direct materials rate. There are some things that are needed in order to figure out an accurate predetermined overhead rate. The more historical data that a company has, the better off that they will be when computing predetermined rates. It is also possible (and often recommended) for a company to use different methods depending on the specific products, processes, and services within the organization. Overhead rate is a percentage used to calculate an estimate for overhead costs on projects that have not yet started.

  1. This concept is important because these costs must be estimated in order to properly provide accurate prices to future customers.
  2. The overhead rate is a cost added on to the direct costs of production in order to more accurately assess the profitability of each product.
  3. Variable costs depend on production – for example, if your production process is energy-intensive, then your electric bill may increase as you produce more goods.
  4. Of course, management also has to price the product to cover the direct costs involved in the production, including direct labor, electricity, and raw materials.
  5. Hence, the overhead incurred in the actual production process will differ from this estimate.

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Using a predetermined overhead rate is advantageous to company planners because it helps them form strategies for the future. Using this calculation gives the best possible estimation of costs based on relatively comfortable overhead estimations. If a business uses an actual overhead cost, they would not be able to determine true costs until after the production has actually happened. Prior to the start of the accounting year, JKL Corp calculates the predetermined annual overhead rate to be used in the new year.

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It allows overhead to be assigned to production based on activity (DLHs), providing insight into profitability across products. This $4 per DLH rate would then be used to apply overhead to production in the accounting period. The difference between actual and applied overhead is later assessed to determine over- or under-application of overhead. Rather than lump overhead costs into one expense account, businesses should allocate fixed and variable overhead to departments.

Determining the Predetermined Overhead Rate Formula

A pre-determined overhead rate is the rate used to apply manufacturing overhead to work-in-process inventory. The first step is to estimate the amount of the activity base that will be required to support operations in the upcoming period. The second step is to estimate the total manufacturing cost at that level https://accounting-services.net/ of activity. The third step is to compute the predetermined overhead rate by dividing the estimated total manufacturing overhead costs by the estimated total amount of cost driver or activity base. Common activity bases used in the calculation include direct labor costs, direct labor hours, or machine hours.

The computation of the overhead cost per unit for all of the products is shown in Figure 6.4. Overhead costs are then allocated to production according to the use of that activity, such as the number of machine setups needed. In contrast, the traditional allocation method commonly uses cost drivers, such as direct labor or machine hours, as the single activity. The concept of predetermined overhead rate is very important because it is used most of the enterprises as it enables them to estimate the approximate total cost of each job.

Instead, overhead rates are your total overhead costs divided by the total number of machines, sales, or labor hours required to produce the product. The application rate that will be used in a coming period, such as the next year, is often estimated months before the actual overhead costs are experienced. Often, the actual overhead costs experienced in the coming period are higher or lower than frisco bookkeeping and tax services those budgeted when the estimated overhead rate or rates were determined. At this point, do not be concerned about the accuracy of the future financial statements that will be created using these estimated overhead allocation rates. You will learn in Determine and Disposed of Underapplied or Overapplied Overhead how to adjust for the difference between the allocated amount and the actual amount.

A later analysis reveals that the actual amount that should have been assigned to inventory is $48,000, so the $2,000 difference is charged to the cost of goods sold. The rate is determined by dividing the fixed overhead cost by the estimated number of direct labor hours. Figure 4.18 shows the monthly manufacturing actual overhead recorded by Dinosaur Vinyl. As explained previously, the overhead is allocated to the individual jobs at the predetermined overhead rate of $2.50 per direct labor dollar when the jobs are complete. It is often difficult to assess precisely the amount of overhead costs that should be attributed to each production process. Costs must thus be estimated based on an overhead rate for each cost driver or activity.

That amount is added to the cost of the job, and the amount in the manufacturing overhead account is reduced by the same amount. At the end of the year, the amount of overhead estimated and applied should be close, although it is rare for the applied amount to exactly equal the actual overhead. For example, Figure 4.18 shows the monthly costs, the annual actual cost, and the estimated overhead for Dinosaur Vinyl for the year. The rate avoids collecting actual manufacturing overhead costs as part of the closing period. For example, overhead costs may be applied at a set rate based on the number of machine hours or labor hours required for the product.

The movie industry uses job order costing, and studios need to allocate overhead to each movie. Their amount of allocated overhead is not publicly known because while publications share how much money a movie has produced in ticket sales, it is rare that the actual expenses are released to the public. A manufacturer producing a variety of products that require different processes will have multiple overhead rates known as departmental overhead rates instead of just one plant-wide overhead rate. Departmental overhead rates are needed because different processes are involved in production that take place in different departments.