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What is goodwill?

In accounting, goodwill is an intangible asset associated with a business combination. Goodwill is recorded when a company acquires (purchases) another company and the purchase price is greater than the combination or net of 1) the fair value of the identifiable tangible and intangible assets acquired, and 2) the liabilities that were assumed.

Goodwill is reported on the balance sheet as a noncurrent asset. Since 2001, U.S. companies are no longer required to amortize the recorded amount of goodwill. However, the amount of goodwill is subject to a goodwill impairment test at least once per year. (Beginning in 2015, private companies may opt to amortize goodwill generally over a 10-year period and thereby minimize the cost and complexity involved with testing for impairment.)

Outside of accounting, goodwill could refer to some value that has been developed within a company as a result of delivering amazing customer service, unique management, teamwork, etc. This goodwill, which is unrelated to a business combination, is not recorded or reported on the company's balance sheet.