Capital Surplus
By LAURA GREEN Updated January 28, 2020
What Is Capital Surplus?
Capital surplus, or share premium, most commonly refers to the surplus resulting after common stock is sold for more than its par value. Capital surplus includes equity or net worth otherwise not classifiable as capital stock or retained earnings.
In the past, the account Paid-in Capital in Excess of Par - Common Stock and the account Premium on Common Stock were referred to as capital surplus. Most balance sheets today call capital surplus paid-in surplus or paid-in capital [in excess of par].
Understanding Capital Surplus
Five ways capital surplus can be created include:
From stock issued at a premium to par or stated value (most common)
From the proceeds of stock bought back and then resold
From a reduction of par or stated value or reclassification of capital stock
From donated stock
From the acquisition of companies that have capital surpluses
Although item 1 is the most common, items 2 and 5 should not be overlooked.
During the last decade, public companies have repurchased significant amounts of their common stock through share repurchase programs. In the future, to raise capital, these businesses could reissue treasury stock.
An uptick in M&A could also see more companies adjusting their balance sheets to account for capital surplus related accounting issues.
Capital stock can serve as an umbrella term for more specific classifications, such as acquired surplus, additional paid-in-capital, donated surplus, or reevaluation surplus (which could pop up during appraisals).
Capital Surplus vs. Retained Earnings
Although capital surplus and retained earnings are components of stockholders' equity and share similar characteristics, they are fundamentally different. Retained earnings are a company's earnings or profits remaining after it pays dividends to its shareholders. These profits are retained by the company and are often used to help the organization scale, such as expanding operations or diversifying a product line.
An organization's final retained earnings balance, which can be negative or positive, is calculated by adding its profits or losses to the beginning retained earnings balance and then subtracting dividends paid to shareholders. Retained earnings are reported in a category of the same name in the stockholders' equity section of the balance sheet.
Capital surplus does not represent earnings and results most commonly when investors pay more than par value for shares. If shares sell at their par value, there is no capital surplus. Capital surplus figures are reported in a category of the same name or titled "additional paid-in capital" in the stockholders' equity section of the balance sheet.
Capital Surplus Example
Consider the example in which a company sells 1000 shares of its common stock for $100 per share, totaling $100,000 in proceeds (1000 shares x $100). The common stock par value is $20 per share (total common stock proceeds = $20,000). Therefore, the capital surplus or additional paid-in capital is $80,000 ($100,000 - $20,000). Twenty thousand dollars will be recorded in the Common Stock account of the balance sheet and $80,000 recorded in the Additional Paid-In Capital account of the balance sheet.
Related Terms
Treasury Stock (Treasury Shares) Definition
Treasury stock is previously outstanding stock bought back from stockholders by the issuing company. more
Additional Paid-In Capital (APIC)
Additional paid-in capital is the excess amount paid by an investor above the par value price of a stock during an initial public offering (IPO). more
Paid-In Capital
Paid-in capital is the capital paid in by investors during common or preferred stock issuances. Learn how paid-in capital impacts a company’s balance sheet.more
A quasi-reorganization eliminates a deficit in retained earnings by restating assets, liabilities, and equity in a manner similar to a bankruptcy. more
Reading into Impaired Capital
Impaired capital is a condition where a company’s total capital becomes less than the par value of its capital stock. more
Stockholders' Equity
Stockholders' equity is the remaining amount of assets available to shareholders after paying liabilities. Learn how to calculate stockholders’ equity. more
Related Articles
How Does a Share Premium Account Appear on the Balance Sheet?
Which Transactions Affect Retained Earnings?
Par Value vs. Market Value: What's the Difference?
What Is Treasury Stock?
Balance Sheet: Analyzing Owners' Equity
What Are the Components of Shareholders' Equity?
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