6 Difference Between Explicit And Implicit Costs

What Are Explicit Costs?

Explicit costs refer to the direct, tangible, and measurable expenses incurred by a firm or individual in the course of conducting business or carrying out an activity. These costs involve actual monetary transactions where money is paid or assets are exchanged. Explicit costs are easily accounted for and are recorded in a company’s financial statements.

Examples of explicit costs include:

  • Wages and Salaries: Payments made to employees for their work.
  • Rent: The cost of leasing or renting property or equipment.
  • Utilities: Expenses related to electricity, water, heating, and other essential services.
  • Raw Materials: The cost of purchasing materials used in the production process.
  • Advertising: Money spent on marketing and promotional activities.
  • Insurance: Premiums paid to insure against various risks.
  • Interest Payments: The cost of borrowing money, including interest on loans.
  • Taxes: Payments made to government authorities.

What are Implicit Costs?

Implicit costs are the opportunity costs associated with using resources that a firm or individual already owns or has at its disposal. They represent the potential value or benefits that could be obtained by using resources in an alternative way.

In other words, Implicit costs are the opportunity costs of using resources for a particular purpose rather than their next best alternative. It’s the value of what could have been done with those resources elsewhere. They do not involve a direct cash outlay. Instead, they encompass non-monetary sacrifices or foregone opportunities.


  • Owner’s Time: If a business owner is actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the business, the time spent working could be considered an implicit cost. This is because the owner could have used that time to work elsewhere or pursue other activities.
  • Owner’s Capital: If the owner invests personal funds in the business, the implicit cost is the opportunity cost of not investing that money elsewhere to earn a return.

Implicit costs are not recorded in a firm’s accounting statements because they don’t involve cash transactions. However, they are used when it comes to understanding the true cost of a particular choice.

Implicit costs can also be used in evaluating the economic feasibility of decisions. For example, when assessing whether to start a business, the owner needs to consider not only the explicit costs (such as rent and salaries) but also the implicit costs of their time and capital.

Key Differences


  • Explicit Costs: These are direct, out-of-pocket expenses that a firm incurs when conducting business.
  • Implicit Costs: These are opportunity costs that arise from using resources owned by the firm in its production process.


  • Explicit Costs: These costs are tangible and easily measurable because they involve actual cash payments or financial transactions.
  • Implicit Costs: These costs are intangible and may not involve a direct cash outflow. They represent the foregone opportunities and benefits associated with using resources in a particular way.


  • Explicit Costs: These costs are recorded in a firm’s accounting statements. They are a part of the financial records and visible to external parties.
  • Implicit Costs: Since implicit costs are not associated with a direct cash payment, they are not recorded in traditional accounting statements.


  • Explicit Costs: Wages paid to employees, rent for office space, utility bills, the cost of raw materials, advertising expenses, and other direct monetary expenditures.
  • Implicit Costs: The opportunity cost of using a firm owner’s time, the forgone interest on the owner’s personal capital invested in the business, and the potential rental income from property owned by the business.


  • Explicit Costs: These are important in determining the profitability of a business and are directly considered in cost-benefit analyses.
  • Implicit Costs: Implicit costs can be used for understanding the full economic cost of a decision particularly, feasibility of a choice.

Differences in Tabular form

FeatureImplicit CostsExplicit Costs
DefinitionOpportunity costs associated with resource useTangible, direct expenses involving monetary transactions
NatureIntangible, non-monetaryTangible, measurable, and involve actual cash outflows
RecordingNot recorded in financial statementsRecorded in financial statements as business expenses
ExamplesOwner’s time, foregone interest on personal capitalWages, rent, utilities, raw materials, advertising, etc.
VisibilityOften overlooked in traditional accountingClearly visible in accounting records and financial statements
Decision-makingConsidered in economic analyses and decision-makingCentral to financial analyses and managerial decision-making