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Overhead Cost Allocations

The allocation of certain overhead costs to produced goods is required under the rules of various accounting frameworks. In many businesses, the amount of overhead to be allocated is substantially greater than the direct cost of goods, so the overhead allocation method can be of some importance.

There are two types of overhead, which are administrative overhead and manufacturing overhead. Administrative overhead includes those costs not involved in the development or production of goods or services, such as the costs of front office administration and sales; this is essentially all overhead that is not included in manufacturing overhead. Manufacturing overhead is all of the costs that a factory incurs, other than direct costs.

You need to allocate the costs of manufacturing overhead to any inventory items that are classified as work-in-process or finished goods. Overhead is not allocated to raw materials inventory, since the operations giving rise to overhead costs only impact work-in-process and finished goods inventory.

Overhead Allocation Examples

Mulligan Imports has a small golf shaft production line, which manufactures a titanium shaft and an aluminum shaft. Considerable machining is required for both shafts, so Mulligan concludes that it should allocate overhead to these products based on the total hours of machine time used. In May, production of the titanium shaft requires 5,400 hours of machine time, while the aluminum shaft needs 2,600 hours. Thus, 67.5% of the overhead cost pool is allocated to the titanium shafts and 32.5% to the aluminum shafts.

As another example, Mulligan Imports incurs overhead of $93,000, which it stores in an overhead cost pool. Mulligan uses a standard overhead rate of $20 per unit, which approximates its long-term experience with the relationship between overhead costs and production volumes. In September, it produces 4,500 golf club shafts, to which it allocates $90,000 (allocate rate of $20 x 4,500 units). This leaves a difference between overhead incurred and overhead absorbed of $3,000. Given the small size of the variance, Mulligan charges the $3,000 difference to the cost of goods sold, thereby clearing out the overhead cost pool.

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