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Non-Operating Expenses: Explained

10 Mins 20 Jun 2023 0 COMMENT

What is a non-operating expense?

A non-operating expense is a type of expense incurred by a business or organization which is not directly related to its primary operations or core business activities. These expenses typically arise from sources outside of the company’s normal operations.

Non-operating expenses are listed separately from operating expenses when financial statements are prepared, as they do not reflect the ongoing costs of running the business or generating revenue. These are peripheral costs that are either one-time events or recurring events.

The best examples of non-operating expenses are finance costs (interest), inventory clearance costs, and legal costs. These costs are subtracted from the operating profit of the company when calculating net profit.

Noting these expenses separately is quite helpful for shareholders and creditors as it helps them ascertain the company’s financial obligations and its actual earnings.

Understanding non-operating expenses

All costs falling outside the core of a company’s business operations may sound trivial but they’re not. For example, companies that are profitable at one point in time may not pivot when the market sentiment changes and fall prey to the evolving needs of the consumer. At such times their profits start to dwindle, and they need to correct their course in order to align their operations with the market needs. Such a cost is called restructuring cost and is yet another type of non-operating expense that occurs only under exceptional circumstances.

In order to get out of this muck, a company may even choose to divest its non-core business to generate enough funds for realignment and realize a temporary increase in its bottom line. This is a non-operating income as this move also does not directly contribute to the operations of the business.

This is why non-operating expenses are treated exclusively when analyzing the financials of a business. Analysts can take a look at these expenses and easily determine how the company performed during a certain period. This analysis also helps identify future trends as patterns may be forming in the way the expenses are incurred and settled.

Operating vs non-operating expenses

Understanding the difference between operating and non-operating expenses is the key to recording them accurately. So, here’s how they are different:

1. Classification:

Operating expenses are expenditures that directly benefit the core operations of a business. Although these may not be a part of the product or service creation, costs incurred in selling the product and marketing it are considered a part of the operational expense.

Conversely, non-operating expenses are either one-offs or recurring, but unrelated to the core operations of the business. These are, however, related to the smooth functioning of the business, so they must not be confused with operating expenses.

2. Reporting:

There is also a stark difference in the way these expenses are mentioned in the Income Statement (P&L Statement). Operating expenses are listed right below the COGS, i.e., Cost of Goods Sold. When this is subtracted from the operating income, we get the operating profit.

However, non-operating expenses are found much lower in the P&L Statement. These are listed below and subtracted from the operating profit when calculating the profit before tax (PBT).

Types of non-operating expenses

Here are some common examples of non-operating expenses that companies can incur:

1. Finance Cost

Sometimes, businesses borrow money to fund their operations. When a company borrows money, interest is charged and must be paid back periodically. Interest payments are considered non-operating expenses because they do not directly contribute to the company’s operations.

2. Relocation Cost

Companies may find themselves in need of relocating their operational setup from one venue to another. This can include several unusual costs, such as transportation, employee incentives for relocation, fresh recruitment costs, and so on. These expenses are also classified as non-operating expenses.

3. Change in Accounting Methods

When a company changes or upgrades its accounting methods, discrepancies can creep in. This can lead to several unaccountable expenses as the errors also need to be fixed. These expenses are added to the non-operating expenses when the numbers are filed.

4. Currency Conversion

When a business forms foreign partnerships, currency conversion becomes necessary to make overseas payments. Fluctuations in foreign exchange rates can sometimes cause the company to incur unforeseen expenses. These are also non-operating expenses.

5. Disaster Control

Black swan events such as natural calamities may sometimes cause immense damage to a company’s assets. Some of them may even be uninsured, which compels the company to incur the full cost of repairs without a choice. Yet another unpredictable cost, this is also a non-operating expense.


While non-operating expenses may not be directly related to a company’s core operations, they can still have a significant impact on its financial health and bottom line. As such, it is important for companies to carefully track and manage these expenses to ensure that they do not have a negative impact on their overall financial performance.


Why are non-operating expenses separately listed?

Setting apart non-operating expenses helps analysts and investors understand how the business is performing, how its debt is being repaid if any, and how much profit it eventually makes. Understanding the pain points of the bottom line becomes easier this way.

Are lease and cost of utilities non-operating expenses?

No, because land and utilities are resources on which the operations of the business depend. In the absence of both, a business would not be able to sustain itself.

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