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relevant and irrelevant cost: Relevant Cost vs Irrelevant Cost All You Need to Know


Making extra wrist watches will not affect the fixed production costs and only variable costs will be incurred, therefore fixed production overheads are not part of the incremental cost in this example. One of the most critical responsibilities of management is decision making and for this, managers often turn to relevant costing. Relevant costing is a very common and useful tool to assist the managers and entrepreneurs in such decision making. According to relevant costing technique, only relevant costs and benefits should be considered while evaluating the financial and economic features of a decision. Historical cost of Rs.11.50 per unit of 5,000 units of product produced last year is irrelevant cost being a sunk cost.

Instead of carrying out Operation 1, the company could buy in components, for $15 per unit. This would allow production to be increased because the machine has to deal with only Operation 2. A company makes a product which requires two sequential operations on the same machine. Cost of machine – this is a relevant cost as $2.1m has to be paid out. As the relevant cost is a net cash outflow, the machine should be sold rather than retained, updated and used. These employees are difficult to recruit and the company retains a number of permanently employed staff, even if there is no work to do.

idle capacity

That is, costs you pay in the future but that arise from past decisions. These are therefore irrelevant in decision making as they don’t meet the criteria to be relevant – a future cost/income arising from the change in decision. Each cost must be identified to not be confused as a relevant cost. An opportunity cost is a benefit which is forgone or lost as a result of opting a particular alternative instead of the next most profitable alternative. This forgone benefit is the opportunity cost, which is usually measured as the contribution forgone. Avoidable costs are costs that can be avoided or saved, depending on whether a particular decision is made or not.

Relevant versus Irrelevant Costs

Some relevant and irrelevant cost may stay the same regardless of which alternative is chosen while some costs may vary between the alternatives. The classification between relevant and irrelevant costs is useful in such situations. Relevant cost is a term that explains costs that are incurred when making business decisions since they affect the future cash flows. The rule here is to consider the costs that will have to be incurred as a result of proceeding with the decision. The concept of relevant cost is used to eliminate unnecessary information that complicates the decision making process. Businesses encounter many costs, and so they classify those expenses according to the type and importance.


A manufacturing facility often faces this situation when receiving a customized order. 40% of the remaining rentals amounting to $20,000 is not relevant cost as it will be incurred anyway whether the Joggers Division is closed or not. The differential cost savings by hiring car “B” will be $1,200 over the next three months, so the company should select option-II. Relevant costs are costs that will be incurred only because of making a particular decision .

What Are Irrelevant Costs?

That though,a s we know, is a ‘sunk’ cost and we should ignore in decision making. In the famous example of Toyota Japan; when they adapted the JUST IN TIME approach, they outsourced many products to suppliers. That make or buy decision would not have been taken without careful considerations about product quality, costs, and profitability measures.

Another example can be when a business is considering opening another division of the company. There will be incurred costs related to adding business operations, which will include both relevant and irrelevant costs. The objective is to identify and reduce relevant costs to earn as much as possible to maximize revenues. Examining business in this fashion will inform decision-makers if adding a division of the company will be beneficial or not. Variable costs are also relevant costs for management decision making. Variable costs include Direct Material costs, Direct labour costs and variable overhead costs.


The only additional cost is the labor to load the passenger’s luggage and any food that is served mid-flight, so the airline bases the last-minute ticket pricing decision on just a few small costs. E.g., In addition to the above order, HIJ recently received another order that will result in a net cash flow of $ 650,450 that will span over a period of 10 months. This refers to the cash expense that will be incurred as a result of the decision. Both costs also help to determine the total cost of operations. David Kindness is a Certified Public Accountant and an expert in the fields of financial accounting, corporate and individual tax planning and preparation, and investing and retirement planning.

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So, it is used to determine the best project based on its costs and revenues after comparing them with each other. Irrelevant costs are things like sunk costs, which include the cost of the lemon squeezer, and fixed overhead costs, which would be the costs of maintaining the lemonade stand. Sunk costs are those costs that cannot be changed because they were from prior decisions. Typical examples are technology, machinery, tools, and vehicles. Fixed overhead costs are the costs needed to operate a business.

The fixed cost of $20,000 is also not relevant as a company would have to incur it whether or not it buys a new machine. Usually, lower management incurs the relevant costs, while top management oversees the spending of the irrelevant costs. When a company faces two or more alternatives, the choice depends on the more profitable option. The profitability, in turn, hinges on the revenue and cost of each option. Some costs would vary for each option, while some costs are the same. Thus, we must classify costs as relevant and irrelevant to make a better decision.

When making a decision, one must take into account and weigh all relevant costs. D.) The other fixed costs of $30,000 are irrelevant since it will not differ under the two choices. In a business, often, a relevant cost can be avoided, and on the other hand, in a business, often, an irrelevant cost cannot be avoided. When it comes to running a business a person has to make up many costs.

  • Describe the different treatments of costs for materials in Relevant Costing.
  • In this case, 60% of the annual rental amounting to $30,000 is relevant cost as it can be saved if the Joggers Division is closed.
  • A big decision for a manager is whether to close a business unit or continue to operate it, and relevant costs are the basis for the decision.
  • Both costs also help to determine the total cost of operations.
  • Cost of avoidable overheads Rs. 1,25,000 is the relevant cost to the contract and as such it has been added to the cost of the contract.

Opportunity cost – the costs of losing an income or economic benefit caused by choosing one option over another. A decision is about the future and it cannot alter what has been done already. Identify sentences or ideas that do not seem to be related to the main topic. If you cannot make a connection, then it is probably irrelevant. If a rock star becomes irrelevant, it means people are not relating––or even listening––to his music anymore.

The old “we have spent so much that if we don’t we will have wasted it” fallacy. This podcast discusses both the Sunk Cost Fallacy and the reality of Opportunity Costs in the context of people’s own decisions about their careers and lives. The only things that are relevant are those that change because of the decision. A restaurant has three brilliant chefs who are masters of Chinese and Italian cuisine.

Example: Opportunity cost

Relevant costs are the prices which might change on account of the choice under consideration, the place as irrelevant prices are these which would stay unchanged by the decision. Therefore only relevant value can be included in the investigative framework . A related price can also be outlined as a price whose quantity shall be affected by a call being made. Management ought to believe only future prices and revenues that will differ under each various . For example, a business has to determine whether to terminate or continue production of a specific product. The business will take into consideration all the costs it could bear and revenues lost if it stops the production of that product.

The future costs and revenues that are expected to differ among the courses of actions under consideration are referred to as relevant costs and revenues. The key consideration to the meaning given above is that the costs and revenues must occur in future and they must as well differ amongst alternative courses of action. Irrelevant prices merely are prices that will not affect the choice.

Committed costs are future costs that cannot be avoided because of decisions that have already been made. Relevant price analysis is a cost accounting based analysis technique. It is simply an improved utility of basic rules to business choices. For example, say that you want to increase the number of books that your business produces next year in order to increase your sales revenue, but the cost of paper has just shot up. Absolutely — that cost will affect your bottom-line profit and may negate any increase in sales volume that you experience . \nFor example, say that you want to increase the number of books that your business produces next year in order to increase your sales revenue, but the cost of paper has just shot up.

Incremental Cost

A future cost is a cost that will be incurred if a specific decision is made. An opportunity cost is an expense that was lost due to a specific decision that was made. An avoidable cost is a cost that can be eliminated when a business decides not to make a decision.

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