Research and development costs include all amounts spent to create new ideas and then turn them into products that can be sold to generate revenue. Because success is highly uncertain, accounting has long faced the challenge of determining whether such costs should be capitalized or expensed. U.S. GAAP requires that all research and development costs (with a few minor exceptions) be expensed as incurred. This official standard prevents manipulation and allows decision makers to see the amount spent by management for this essential function. However, this method of accounting means that companies (especially in certain industries) often fail to show some of their most valuable assets on their balance sheets.
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