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Capital Assets

About this Policy

Capital Assets

Policy Number: 22401

Effective Date:
Jul 01, 2020

Last Updated:
Dec 06, 2017

Responsible Office:
UM System Controller's Office

Responsible Administrator:
UM System Controller

Policy Contact:

Campus Accounting


  • Finance

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This policy applies to all assets used in operations that are purchased or constructed and in which the University will inventory, track, and record as a Capital Asset.  In addition, it applies to all assets received by donation, or that are acquired through governmental surplus property procedures.

Reason for Policy

This policy provides guidance as to the application of GASB and OMB Uniform Guidance for the University to ensure compliance with external reporting requirements for Capital Assets.

Policy Statement

The costs of all assets used in operations that are acquired or constructed should be capitalized as a Capital Asset when the cost or the fair value, at the date of acquisition or donation, meet the thresholds established within this policy and the expected Useful Life is greater than one (1) year.  Generally, holding title to an asset equates to ownership, and the entity that has ownership of an asset should report the asset in its financial statements. 

The acquisition value of an asset includes all costs of the asset and all additional costs necessary to place the asset in its intended location and condition for use.  This may include freight and installation costs and excludes training costs.  An acquisition may be made by a purchase, gift, construction or lease purchase.  Below outlines the valuation for the asset under each method:

  • Purchase: recorded at actual cost paid, including freight and installation costs, and net of any discounts.For additional costs that may be considered, see the Asset Specific Capitalization Components sections below.
    • Trade-In Allowances: to determine the value of a Capital Asset, use the value before trade-in allowances are applied (i.e. the value will typically be greater than the amount paid).
  • Gift: recorded at fair market value as of the date of the acquisition plus any costs incurred with the acceptance of the gift.
  • Construction: recorded at cost and includes all identifiable direct costs such as drawings, blueprints, component parts, contract costs, insurance, materials, and supplies consumed in fabrication, labor, and installation.Non-consumable supplies, such as tools that may be used again with different assets, should not be included.During construction, expenses should be charged to capital accounts.
  • Lease: recorded at the total cost of the lease net of interest expense (the present value at the inception of the lease).

In limited circumstances, assets may be recorded as composite assets in which more than one asset is grouped together for the recording of the capital asset.  Capitalization thresholds still apply to the individual asset in determining whether the item should be capitalized or expensed (this excludes collections of Library Materials).  The composite asset method of recorded assets should only be used when there is a large volume of similar assets that would be depreciated under the same useful life.

Thresholds for the capitalization of an asset are as outlined below.  Items that fall below the established thresholds should be expensed in the period the cost is incurred.

Asset Type Amount
Artwork or Historical Artificats $5,000
Building and Improvements $100,000
Building and Improvements - HOSPT business unit only $50,000
Equipment $5,000
Infrastructure $100,000
Infrastructure - HOSPT business unit only $50,000
Land All regardless of amount
Library Materials All regardless of amount
Livestock All regardless of amount
Software $100,000


Asset Specific Capitalization Components

Art and Historical Treasures
The University capitalizes individual pieces or collections of Art that meet thresholds and that comply with the GASB 34 criteria as follows:

  • Held for public exhibition, education, or research in the furtherance of public service, rather than financial gain.
  • Protected, kept unencumbered,cared for, and preserved.
  • Subject to an organizational policy that the proceeds from sales of collection to be used to acquire other items for collections

Land and Buildings
The asset value of Land or Buildings may include costs necessary for the purchase such as appraisal, title, recording, and legal fees.  When Land is acquired with Buildings erected thereon, the total cost is allocated between the categories of Building and Land at the date of acquisition, regardless of the intent for use (excluding assets held for resale).  This allocation should be based on the executed purchase documents. If the purchase documents do not show the allocation, other sources of the information may be used such as expert appraisals or the real estate tax assessment records.

Library Materials
General collections of Library Materials or books are generally exhaustible by nature.  However, electronic books, subscriptions, or other electronic library materials may be considered inexhaustible depending on the nature of the access to the electronic format.  When all capitalization criteria is met and the materials are inexhaustible, then the materials should be capitalized as library materials and no depreciation to be calculated.

Paper collections or books that are considered inexhaustible and whose value is depleted so slowly that the estimated Useful Life is extraordinarily long, are considered to be a work of Art or Historical Treasure and should follow the capitalization thresholds as such.

Software Development and Purchases
Consistent with the GASB, new software projects with Direct Costs greater than or equal the established threshold should be capitalized. The software implementation project must be broken down into three stages:

  • Project Stage – costs associated with the selection of the specific software.
  • Development Stage – begins once the preliminary project stage has been completed and management with the relevant authority (explicitly or implicitly), authorizes, and commits to funding a computer software project and believes it is probable the project will be completed and the software will be used to perform the intended function.

  • Post-Implementation/Operation Stage.

In addition to the cost of the software, only expenses incurred during the application development stage should be capitalized. At the point of the development stage, the costs incurred to develop or obtain computer software for internal use should be capitalized and accounted for as a Capital Asset. Capitalization ceases at the point at which the software is substantially complete including all necessary testing and is ready for use.  General and administrative costs, as well as overhead, are not capitalized for internal use software.

Both internal and external costs incurred to install, configure, code, and test software are capitalized. The cost of testing, as well as installing, the software should be capitalized. The costs included in the value of the Capital Asset, once the capitalization period has begun, would be the following:

  • External Direct Costs (i.e., from third-party transactions) of materials and services consumed in developing or obtaining internal use software,
  • Payroll and benefits costs for employees who devote a substantial amount of time during the application stage.  Substantial time on a project is the lesser of 500 hours or an amount set by UM System.
  • The costs of developing bridging software should be capitalized, but only if the software is used for this specific data conversion effort and there is no alternative future use for the bridging software.
  • Developed or obtained software that allows for access of old data by new systems.
  • Training for the design or functionality of the software should be capitalized if determined to be material to the project.  The costs of training users on the use of the software should be expensed.
  • As discussed in GASB 51 Question Z.51.23, software upgrades should generally not be capitalized and should be considered maintenance, and accordingly expensed as incurred.  Only upgrades or enhancements that can be demonstrated to have substantial additional functionality beyond the original software would be capitalized.

University Constructed Assets
Costs incurred during construction or fabrication for assets budgeted to meet the capitalization threshold must be charged to a capital account.  Identifiable direct costs during construction or fabrication could include: drawings, blueprints, component parts, materials, supplies consumed in construction/fabrication, labor, and installation.  In progress/process accounts should be used for constructed assets that are still in progress or not yet in service (less than 95% complete). 

Costs for studies, including but not limited to engineering and feasibility studies, should not be capitalized as part a capital asset unless it is probable that the project will proceed through completion of the asset.  

When University resources are utilized in construction or renovation of buildings, the Construction Management Department may engage with various University departments for relatively minor involvement in a project.  University resources may be utilized so long as the total labor costs does not exceed the limit set by the Office of Facilities Development and Planning.  The total costs allowed are indexed for construction cost inflation using the average between St. Louis and Kansas City as established by Engineering News-Record.

Capital Leases
Leased Assets are capitalized if it meets the criteria outlined in the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Standard No. 13, which essentially provides that a lease is a capital lease if at inception it meets any one of the following criteria:

  • It transfers ownership of the property to the lessee by the end of the lease term;
  • It contains a bargain purchase option;
  • The lease term is 75% or more of the estimated economic life of the lease property; or
  • At the beginning of the lease term, the present value of the minimum lease payments (excluding executory costs) equals or exceeds 90% of the excess of the fair of the leased property.

Repairs, Improvements, and Enhancements
The costs of additions, major repairs, enhancements, or improvements subsequent to the initial acquisition should be capitalized if the following are met:

  • The costs meets the capitalization threshold; and
  • Useful Life of the asset is extended beyond its original life; or
  • Functionality of the asset is extended and/or the service capacity or efficiency is increased.

Repair or maintenance expenditures that keep the asset in its normal operating condition or that bring the asset back to its original state without either extending the Useful Life or improving upon the functionality or service capacity of the asset are not considered capital expenditures and should be expensed in the period incurred.  Examples of non-capital repair or maintenance include but are not limited to the following:

  • Maintenance Agreements/Contracts
  • Preventative Maintenance
  • Janitorial Services
  • Window Washing
  • Extermination Services

Ownership of the Asset and Asset Inventory
Each campus with assets that are determined to be Capital Assets must be inventoried.  In addition to assets that the University is the owner, assets that are provided by an external sponsor must also be inventoried, regardless of whether the title is retained by the sponsor or the University.  Federal, state, and private grant funded capital Equipment is classified depending on ownership or title to the Equipment.  Title to or ownership of Equipment is determined by the provisions of the sponsoring award, contract, or agency policy and fall under three classifications of grant funded capital Equipment:

  • Sponsored Purchased/University-owned – reported and capitalized as a University asset.
  • Sponsored Purchase/Government-owned – recorded in Asset Management as Non-University Owned with a unique tag.  However these assets are not reported in the Universities financial statements. Government-titled Equipment may not be disposed or removed from service without approval from the sponsoring agency.
  • Government Furnished Property - recorded in Asset Management as Non-University Owned with a unique tag.  However these assets are not reported in the Universities financial statements. Government- furnished property must be appropriately identified and tracked by the receiving department. The department should also notify their campus Sponsored Programs Office when the Equipment is received for special reporting requirements.

All inventoried assets must be tracked and disposed of in accordance with the terms and conditions of the external sponsor’s requirements. This is applicable to sponsored project assets as defined by the sponsor. 

Federally funded Equipment should be managed in accordance with the OMB Uniform Guidance and Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR), specifically FAR Parts 45 and 52.245.  In addition, certain sponsors may have capital Equipment requirements in the terms and conditions of the award.


Capital Assets - an asset used in operations that has an expected Useful Life of greater than 1 year.  These assets may include Land, Land improvements, Infrastructure, buildings, building improvements, vehicles, Equipment, works of Art and Historical Treasures, and all other tangible or intangible assets that meet this definition. A Capital Asset should be self-contained for its primary function (not a component part of any other assets); Expenditures that meet or exceed thresholds are recorded as capital assets and depreciated over their Useful Life rather than being treated as an expense in the accounting period the cost is incurred.

Useful Life - the time period over which an asset is expected to provide service potential.

Equipment - physical assets that are not permanently affixed to buildings.

Artwork or Historical Treasures - consists of tangible objects held primarily for their cultural and social value, rather than their functional, operational, or economic value. They include items held because of their aesthetic nature as artistic impressions (works of art) or their association with historical events, accomplishments, persons, cultures, or eras (historical treasures). This can include monuments.

Library Materials - includes general collections of library holdings of the University libraries (not departmental reference libraries). General collections include general books, periodicals, reference materials, microfilm, maps, manuscripts, etc. 

Infrastructure - includes streets, pavements, landscaping, utility and telephone distribution systems, and parking lots. All identifiable costs are included such as (but not limited to) contract costs and insurance costs during the period of construction.

Land or Real Property - the term real property refers to land. Land, in its general usage, includes not only the face of the earth but everything of a permanent nature over or under it. This includes structures and minerals. Land acquired by gift or bequest is recorded at the fair market value at the date of acquisition.

Livestock - animals used for instruction in agriculture or held for herd or flock perpetuation/improvement. Livestock is always valued at fair market value.

Direct Costs (software) - include the cost of the software or fair market value of the software if acquired by gift, and any projected direct costs such as consulting expense needed to install, configure, code and test the software.

Non-University Owned - an asset that is titled to an entity other than the University but is in the University’s possession. The thresholds applicable to University owned Equipment apply here unless the owner requires a different threshold in which case the Asset Management system will be used to track the Equipment.

Sponsored Purchased/University-owned - Equipment purchased in whole or in part with federal or other sponsoring agency funds with title vested to the University.

Sponsored Purchased/ Government-owned Equipment - Equipment purchased with federal funds with title vested to the federal government is considered “government-owned Equipment.” 

Government-furnished Property - Equipment in the possession of, or acquired directly by, the federal government and subsequently delivered or otherwise made available to the University under a grant or contract is considered “government-furnished property.” Title to government-furnished property remains with the government, regardless of the Equipment’s value. 


UM System Supply Chain – Asset Management:

  • Establish and maintain the records and procedures necessary for the accountability of Capital Assets
  • Evaluate reports to identify Equipment, Art and Historical Treasures, software and determine if they qualify as capital assets
  • Tag capital assets and enter details into Asset Management for Equipment, Art and Historical Treasures, and software
  • Maintain inventory records for capital Equipment.
  • Enter assets into Asset Management for Art and Historical Treasures

UM System Controller’s Office:

  • Establish and maintain policy for the capitalization of assets
  • Work with campus accounting offices for capitalization of software
  • Oversee the financial impacts of recording capital vs non-capital assets and expenses in the General Ledger

UM System Office of Facilities Development and Planning:

  • Establish limits for internal labor resources on university constructed assets

Campus Accounting Offices:

  • Enter Land, buildings, Infrastructure, Livestock and Library Materials into the Asset Management system
  • Reconcile capital purchases to Asset Management additions
  • Execute adjusting entries to Asset Management and the General Ledger
  • Obtain a list of all non-cash gifts from the campus advancement office to ensure all Capital Asset gifts are captured in Asset Management and General Ledger
  • Record the increase/decrease in purchased Livestock from the prior year-end
  • Work with departments and UM System Controller’s Office to determine software capitalization.

Campus Advancement Offices:

  • Inform campus accounting office of all non-cash gifts


  • Communicate any additions, disposals, or movements of Equipment to the Asset Management Office
  • Report inventories of Livestock to campus accounting office
  • Notify the advancement office of Equipment that has been obtained from donations
  • Ensure all capital purchases are properly recorded in a capital account

Additional Details



Related Information

Policy 22405 on Depreciation
Policy 24007 on Inventory of Movable Property and Equipment


Revised on July 1, 2020 to remove interest as a costs to be added to the value of the capital asset recorded.

This policy combines the following former policies:

  • Accounting Policy Manual 20.05.05 – Capital Assets – Artwork (revised 5/1/2007)
  • Accounting Policy Manual 20.05.10 – Capital Assets – Buildings and Improvements (revised 5/1/2007)
  • Accounting Policy Manual 20.05.40 – Capital Assets – Equipment (revised 2/11/2015)
  • Accounting Policy Manual 20.05.45 – Capital Assets – Land (revised 5/1/2007)
  • Accounting Policy Manual 20.05.50 – Capital Assets – Library Books (revised 5/1/2007)
  • Accounting Policy Manual 20.05.55 – Capital Assets – Livestock (revised 5/1/2007)
  • Accounting Policy Manual 20.05.60 – Capital Assets – Software Development and Purchase (revised 5/11/2011)
  • Accounting Policy Manual 20.25 – Non-University Owned Assets (revised 10/20/2008)
  • Purchasing Policy Manual 801 – Equipment


UM System Supply Chain – Asset Management site
Capital Account Chartfield Listing: 770000 - 799700
Facilities Management Policy and Procedure Manual

Reviewed 2022-07-05