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Operating Expense

Operating Expense

What Are Operating Expenses?

Operating expenses are costs tied to the normal operations of a company. They incorporate the everyday expenses of a company's business activities, yet reject those engaged with the production of goods and services. They are additionally alluded to as indirect costs, in light of the fact that operating expenses aren't directly connected with the costs of production as [cost of goods sold](/machine gear-pieces) is.
Operating expenses incorporate costs for office rentals, warehouses, and payroll, and are kept in the income statement. For publicly traded companies, the income statement is part of the financial statement that is documented quarterly and yearly with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Operating expenses are frequently abbreviated as "opex" (similarly that capital expenditures is "capex"). These costs are utilized in working out operating income.

Step by step instructions to Calculate Operating Expenses

Operating Expenses Formula

Operating Expenses = Selling, General and Administrative + Research and Development + Depreciation + Amortization + Restructuring + Other

What Costs Are Included in a Company's Operating Expenses?

There are different components in operating expenses, and each company has its own set of standards, yet the details below generally shows up on the income statement. While costs for selling, general, and administrative might be a normalized thing for some companies, some may not list depreciation and amortization since those expenses might be small.

Selling, General, and Administrative

Selling expenses are tied with selling, marketing, and distributing a product or service. Selling itself incorporates costs for commissions, while marketing costs incorporate advertising, promotion through social media, and keeping a website. Distribution costs incorporate storage, inventory management, packaging, and transportation.
General expenses differ from covering rent on leased office space and utilities to office supplies and computer equipment. Administrative expenses cover wages, salaries, and benefits, for example, insurance and medical services to non-sales employees. Other SGA expenses incorporate legal fees, accounting fees, and travel.

Research and Development

Research and development expenses are tied to the costs of fostering a company's product or service.

Depreciation and Amortization

Depreciation and amortization can be packaged together, and their costs are connected with the devaluation of the company's unmistakable assets, like machinery, office equipment, furniture, and structures, and immaterial assets including copyrights, trademarks, and licenses.


Restructuring costs are tied with the reorganization of a company. It can include costs associated with covering a business unit, destroying a factory, or paying severance to salaried employees.

Different Costs

These costs cover expenses that aren't recurring for each reporting period. Fees paid to experts are a model.

Operating Expenses Example: Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA)

In the table below — a partial listing of Tesla's income statement — selling, general and administrative costs were the bulk of its operating expenses, trailed by research and development. There were no known depreciation and amortization expenses listed.

Tesla2020% Change2019% Change2018
Cost of revenues24,90621%20,50918%17,419
Gross profit6,63063%4,0691%4,042
Operating expenses
Research and development 1,49111%1,343 -8%1,460
Selling, general and administrative3,14519%2,646-7%2,835 
Restructuring and other ––n/a 14910%135
Total operating expenses4,63612%4,138-7%4,430
This table is an abbreviated variant of Tesla's 2020 income statement from its Form 10-K. All figures, with the exception of percentage changes, are in great many dollars.


  • Conversely, a non-operating expense is an expense incurred by a business that is unrelated to the business' core operations.
  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) permits businesses to deduct operating expenses on the off chance that the business operates to earn profits.
  • Frequently abbreviated as OPEX, operating expenses incorporate rent, equipment, inventory costs, marketing, payroll, insurance, step costs, and funds allocated for research and development.
  • An operating expense is an expense a business causes through its normal business operations.


What Is the Difference Between Operating Expense and Capital Expenditure?

Capital expenditures are costs tied to the purchase of a company's assets, including property, plants, and machinery, and are not viewed as part of daily operating expenses since they will generally be one-time costs. For instance, plants and machinery can be sat for a really long time at a time until they become important to operate, compared to a commonly working all year manager to assist a company with operating proficiently.

Will Operating Expenses Be Negative?

Operating expenses aren't likely to be negative since they are costs charged to a company. A negative expense would mean a charge back to the company.

Why Aren't Interest Expenses and Tax Payments Part of Operating Expenses?

Interest expenses and tax payments are not part of operating expenses since payment on debt and taxes don't count as part of a company's daily operations.

Are Operating Expenses the Same as Cost of Goods Sold?

Operating expenses are indirect costs tied to the everyday operations of a company, while cost of goods sold are direct costs tied to the production of a company's goods or services.

Are Operating Expenses Fixed Costs?

Many expenses, like those for rent, utilities, and salaries, are fixed costs since they don't will quite often change each accounting period. Yet, different things, like selling expenses, for instance, can be viewed as semi-variable costs in light of the fact that their costs are dependent on the volume of sales. Higher sales can lead to higher commission fees for certain employees, while lower sales can mean lower fees.