indirect cost definition

A cost or expense that is not directly traceable to a department, product, activity, customer, etc. As a result indirect costs and expenses are often allocated to the department, product, etc. For example, a manufacturing department that molds plastic has some costs that are directly traceable to it, such as the wages and fringe benefits of the direct labor working exclusively in that department. However, the heat for the entire building appears only on one utility bill. The heating bill is an indirect cost to the molding department. Generally it will be assigned to all departments based on the number of square feet each department occupies.