Selling, General, and Administrative Expense SG&A Meaning

Get our latest business advice delivered directly to your inbox. Our easy-to-use template will help you understand the cash coming in and going out of your business so you can make smarter decisions. Business owners love Patriot’s award-winning payroll software. If you’re trying to get a better handle on your business finances, Bench can help. This means that 26.65% of every dollar XYZ Inc. earns gets spent on SG&A expenses.

  • The ABC executives also squandered shareholders’ capital through out-of-control expenses.
  • If you’re familiar with operating expenses, you might be wondering what the difference is between SG&A and operating costs.
  • SG&A expenses can be reported differently, depending on the company.
  • Imagine a company will spend $300 on advertising, $400 on office rent, and $500 on manager salary next year.

But sometimes, SG&A is listed as a subcategory of operating expenses on the income statement. Research and development (R&D) expenses are also included in operating expenses. R&D expenses are costs related to the innovation of new products or services.

Are SG&A expenses tax deductible?

At the same time, companies need to act wisely in making these decisions. Aggressive cuts in spending may yield short-term improvements while resulting in a long-term decline in revenue. For example, when a unit is sold, there may be packaging and shipping costs and sales commission payable to the salesperson. The two main categories of expenses on an income statement are the cost of goods sold (COGS) and selling, general, and administrative (SG&A) expenses. COGS is the expense that most directly drives revenue and refers to the direct costs of manufacturing goods sold. The ABC executives also squandered shareholders’ capital through out-of-control expenses.

  • Salaries and commissions of salespersons are also considered selling expenses.
  • For example, let’s say a company will generate $5,000 of revenue next year.
  • Selling expenses are categorized into indirect and direct expenses.
  • LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-service tools.
  • But as mentioned earlier, the line item can be broken out individually depending on the size of the cost and relevance to the core business model.

SG&A costs are typically reduced after a company merger or acquisition makes it possible to reduce redundancies. Managers track these expenses to ensure they pay only what their competitors are. As a result, SG&A spending is closely tracked 5 reasons for quality inventory management systems and is the first to lose funding when a company loses profits. After mergers or in times of financial hardship, SG&A expense is the first area that management would examine to cut costs without impacting manufacturing or sales.

How to Forecast SG&A Expense

SG&A can be broken down into selling expenses and general and administrative expenses. A variable cost structure is one in which the SG&A costs keep pace with sales. Think of an importer that has only a warehouse and almost no other fixed expenses. It has just a 15% commission that it pays to independent road salesmen.

The difference between SG&A and COGS

They are usually fixed costs that are incurred disregarding the amount of sales or production incurred during a certain period. Operating expenses and selling, general, and administrative expenses (SG&A) are both types of costs involved in running a company, and significant in determining its financial well-being. While generally synonymous, they each can be listed separately on the corporate income statement. Let’s discuss the main differences between the two types of expenses.

The difference between the SG&A expense and cost of goods sold (COGS) line item is as follows. Many of their assets, such as inventory, retail, and warehouse locations, are vulnerable. Therefore, the company must have insurance if its assets are damaged. Goldman Sachs is known for having some of the top employees in the world. The company is very selective and only chooses to hire those who fit with the company. Human resources are important to companies and perform much of the behind-the-scenes work.

You’ll almost certainly have direct and indirect selling expenses. Direct expenses are those incurred at the exact point-of-sale for a product or service. Examples of direct selling expenses include transaction costs and commissions paid on a sale.

What is the Difference Between SG&A vs. Operating Expense?

Pharmaceutical and healthcare have some of the highest SG&A expenses as a percent of revenue, while energy typically has a much lower ratio. Firms must often reduce SG&A costs through cost-cutting moves, such as employee layoffs, when they grow too large without a rise in sales. The same might happen when sales drop for a long stretch of time. Firms with highly variable cost structures are said to have low operating leverage. They might have more competition, but they can more easily survive painful declines in revenue and cash flow. The business doesn’t have to cover a fixed expense load each month.


It is important to note that SG&A, unlike COGS,  is not directly related to the sales number. However, over a period of a whole year, these expenses are fairly flexible, so when a company forecasts, it can link the SG&A expenses to sales. SG&A includes almost every business expense that isn’t included in the cost of goods sold (COGS). COGS includes the expenses necessary to manufacture a product including the labor, materials, and overhead expenses. SG&A costs are the residual expenses necessary to run the organization and incur costs less specifically tied to the cost of making the product. Certain companies will file their financial statements with one line for SG&A, while others – for example, software companies – will separately break out G&A and sales & marketing.

Businesses must use and track Selling, General & Administrative expenses to manage costs and expand profits. Suppose that a bank invests heavily in its customer service experiences. It therefore has higher selling costs on its income sheet, but it also has higher sales. The profitability therefore increases as well, ofsetting those higher costs. The SG&A sales ratio can be used to monitor the trends of a company’s SG&A expenses in relation to sales, providing insight into profit or helping benchmark to industry averages.

General and administrative expenses

A company’s SG&A budget plays a major role in its success and profitability. This type of expense is also very vulnerable to cost-cutting measures. Once she calculates the SG & A before depreciation, she deducts the depreciation of the office building, the depreciation of the office equipment, and the depreciation of the vehicles. The net $356,550 is the amount that will be reported on the income statement. The Ascent is a Motley Fool service that rates and reviews essential products for your everyday money matters.

For example, an important role of SG&A is to increase the awareness and profitability of a brand. Advertising is a great way to reach customers who may need to be aware of your business. To get the top salesperson talent, they must offer great compensation. Having a strong sales team is one of the advantages Allstate has against its competition.

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