Capital Expenditures vs Revenue Expenditures

The blog highlights the prominent differences between capital expenditure and revenue expenditure. Read more in the blog.
Capital Expenditures vs Revenue Expenditures
3 mins read

In business finance, the distinction between different kinds of expenditures is crucial. It not only enables companies to manage their resources better but also ensures that their financial statements display accurate information.

All kinds of expenditures that businesses incur can be classified into two types - capital expenditure and revenue expenditure. In this article, we are going to explore these two categories in detail and try to understand the differences between capital and revenue items of expenditure.

What is capital expenditure?

Capital expenditure, also known as CapEx, is the money that a business spends to acquire, construct, renovate or upgrade long-term fixed assets, including both tangible and intangible assets.

These long-term fixed assets often provide benefits that extend beyond the current accounting period and often involve enhancing the company’s productivity or revenue generation capabilities.

Capital expenditures are often non-recurring by nature and are categorised as assets on the balance sheet of a company.

If you find it challenging to remember which expenditure is capital expenditure, just keep in mind that for an expense to be classified under this category, it must create a new asset or enhance the value of an existing asset.

Types of capital expenditure

Before we compare the differences between capital and revenue items of expenditure, let us quickly glance through the different types of capital expenses a business can incur.

  • Acquisition expenditures
    This type of capital expenditure involves the purchase or acquisition of long-term assets and includes buying a new manufacturing plant or acquiring a fleet of vehicles for business operations.
  • Improvement expenditure
    This type of expenditure is aimed at enhancing the efficiency, productivity, or lifespan of existing assets. Examples include renovating a production facility, upgrading existing infrastructure or conducting major repairs on machinery.
  • Strategic expenditure
    Unlike the other two, this type of capital expenditure is non-economic in nature and may not always result in the creation of an asset. However, it often leads to increased competitiveness and better positioning for the company in the market.

What is revenue expenditure?

Revenue expenditure, also known as OpEx, is the money that a business spends to maintain its day-to-day operations and generate revenue in the short term. These expenses are often recurring by nature and are essential to sustain normal business activities.

Since revenue expenditure does not directly result in the creation of an asset or the enhancement of an asset’s value, it is categorised as expenses in the income statement of a company.

Types of revenue expenditure

Similar to capital expenditure, revenue expenses can also be categorised into different types. Here is an overview of what they are.

  • Direct expenses
    These types of expenses involve funds that a company spends as part of its production process. These are regular operational costs required for the day-to-day functioning of the business.
  • Indirect expenses
    These types of expenses include funds that a company spends outside its production process. It involves costs incurred for the sale, marketing and distribution of products and services. Additionally, it also includes the money spent on administrative activities.

Examples of capital and revenue expenditures

Here are some examples to help you better understand the concept of capital and revenue expenditures incurred by a company.

Capital expenditure

  • Purchase of new machinery for a manufacturing plant
  • Money paid to renew copyrights and patents
  • Acquisition of a commercial property for business expansion
  • Investment in software development for internal use
  • Construction of a new office building
  • Purchase of a delivery vehicle for the transportation of goods

Revenue expenditure

  • Money paid to raw material suppliers
  • Wages for employees involved in the production process.
  • Monthly rent for office space
  • Utility expenses, such as electricity and water bills
  • Routine maintenance and repair of office equipment.
  • Advertising and marketing expenses for promotional campaigns.

Differences between capital and revenue expenditure

Understanding the differences between capital and revenue items of expenditure is crucial not only for companies but also for investors. Knowing how these two differ can help you analyse the financial statements of companies more effectively.

Particulars Capital expenditure Revenue expenditure
Purpose To enhance productivity, increase revenue and expand capabilities To sustain ongoing business operations
Time Horizon Provides benefits over the long term Benefits are more short-term and generally limited to a financial year
Accounting Treatment Listed as ‘assets’ in the balance sheet of a company Listed as ‘expenses’ in the income statement of a company
Impact on financial statements Increases the asset base and depreciation expenses, reducing profitability Reduces profitability; has no impact on the asset base
Frequency Expenses are not incurred regularly Expenses are incurred frequently throughout the financial year
Examples Purchase of equipment, acquisition of land or upgradation of existing machinery Payment of rent, utilities, salaries and distribution and marketing costs



With this, you must now be aware of the differences between capital and revenue items of expenditure. To put it simply, capital expenditures are incurred with the goal of creating long-term assets that can potentially enhance revenue and productivity. Revenue expenditures, on the other hand, are routine expenses that are incurred during the day-to-day activities of a business.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the major difference between revenue and expenses?
Revenue represents the income that a business generates and includes both operating and non-operating income. Expenses, on the other hand, represent the funds that a business spends during its day-to-day operations.
What is the difference between a capital transaction and a revenue transaction?
Capital transactions involve the purchase or sale of long-term assets and are incurred occasionally. Revenue transactions, meanwhile, are more frequent and involve cash inflows and outflows that are incurred during the regular course of business.
What is an example of a capital expenditure?
The purchase or construction of a new factory building to expand production capacity is an example of capital expenditure. Although it involves cash outflow, it is an investment that could potentially enhance the company's long-term capabilities and contribute to its future revenue generation.
Why is the distinction between capital and revenue expenditure important?
The distinction between capital and revenue expenditure is crucial to ensuring the efficient allocation of resources, the maintenance of accurate financial records and compliance with regulatory requirements.
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