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What is Expense Structures?

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Expense structures, also known as cost structures, refer to the composition and categorization of a company’s expenses. They provide insights into how a company allocates its resources and incurs costs in the process of generating revenue and conducting its operations.

Expense structures can vary significantly depending on the nature of the business, industry practices, and specific cost drivers. Understanding and analyzing expense structures is essential for evaluating a company’s cost efficiency, profitability, and financial performance.

Here are some common elements and categories that may be included in an expense structure:

1. Cost of Goods Sold (COGS): COGS represents the direct costs associated with producing or purchasing goods that are sold by a company. It includes expenses such as raw materials, direct labor, manufacturing overheads, and other costs directly attributed to the production process.

2. Operating Expenses: Operating expenses encompass various categories of costs incurred in the normal course of business operations. These expenses are not directly tied to the production of goods and can include:

   a. Selling and Marketing Expenses: These expenses include advertising, sales commissions, marketing campaigns, promotions, and other costs associated with selling and promoting products or services.

   b. General and Administrative Expenses: General and administrative expenses include overhead costs related to the overall administration and management of the business. Examples include salaries, rent, utilities, office supplies, professional fees, and other administrative expenses.

   c. Research and Development Expenses: Research and development expenses are incurred in the process of researching and developing new products, technologies, or improving existing products or processes.

   d. Depreciation and Amortization: Depreciation represents the allocation of the cost of long-term tangible assets (e.g., buildings, machinery) over their useful lives, while amortization refers to the allocation of the cost of intangible assets (e.g., patents, copyrights). These expenses reflect the gradual reduction in the value of assets over time.

3. Finance Expenses: Finance expenses are costs associated with financing activities, such as interest on loans, bank charges, and other costs related to borrowing funds or obtaining credit.

4. Income Tax Expense: Income tax expense represents the taxes payable to the government based on the taxable income of the company.

Expense structures may vary based on the industry and business model. For example, a manufacturing company may have a significant portion of its expense structure allocated to raw materials and production-related costs, while a service-oriented company may have higher operating expenses related to marketing and human resources.

Analyzing expense structures helps businesses identify cost-saving opportunities, optimize resource allocation, and improve profitability. It enables management to make informed decisions regarding cost control, pricing strategies, and operational efficiency.

It’s important to note that expense structures can be specific to each company, and the categorization and composition of expenses may vary based on individual circumstances and accounting practices.


1. International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), available at:

2. SAICA website – (South African Institute of Chartered Accountants)