Is Computer Software License a Fixed Asset?

Tyler Yates

Computer software has been an essential part of businesses for quite some time now. It has revolutionized the way we work and has made tasks much more manageable than before.

However, when it comes to accounting, it can be challenging to determine the classification of computer software licenses. One of the questions that arise frequently is whether computer software licenses are considered fixed assets or not.

What is a Fixed Asset?

A fixed asset is a long-term tangible asset that a company owns and uses in its operations to generate revenue. These assets are expected to provide benefits beyond one year or one operating cycle. Examples of fixed assets include buildings, equipment, land, and vehicles.

What is Computer Software?

Computer software is a collection of programs that enable computer hardware to perform specific tasks. It consists of a set of instructions that tell the computer what to do. There are two types of computer software: system software and application software.

System software includes operating systems like Windows or macOS, while application software includes programs like Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop.

Are Computer Software Licenses Fixed Assets?

The answer to this question depends on how the company acquires the license. If a company purchases the license outright, then it is considered a fixed asset since it provides benefits beyond one year or one operating cycle.

However, if a company leases the license from a vendor, then it is considered an intangible asset rather than a fixed asset since there is no ownership involved. The leased license would be classified as an expense on the income statement rather than an asset on the balance sheet.

Classifying Computer Software Licenses as Intangible Assets

When classifying computer software licenses as intangible assets, they are recorded at their fair value at the time of acquisition. The fair value can be determined through various methods such as market value or cost-to-replace.

The intangible asset must also have a finite life, which means it has a specific useful life and will eventually expire. The company must estimate the useful life of the asset and amortize it over that period.


In conclusion, whether computer software licenses are considered fixed assets or not depends on how the company acquires them. If they are purchased outright, then they are considered fixed assets, but if they are leased from a vendor, they are considered intangible assets. It is essential for companies to properly classify their assets to ensure accurate financial reporting and avoid any potential legal or tax consequences.