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Intangible Personal Property


Intangible Personal Property refers to assets that are not physical in nature. They include intellectual property like patents, trademarks, and copyrights, as well as financial assets like stocks, bonds, and bank accounts. Despite their lack of physical substance, they still hold distinct economic value on a company’s balance sheet.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Intangible Personal Property” is:In-tan-juh-buhl Per-suh-nuhl Prop-er-tee

Key Takeaways

Intangible personal property, unlike physical assets, is property that cannot be physically touched. It’s importance in personal and business transactions cannot be understated. Here are three main takeaways about Intangible Personal Property :

  1. Types of Intangible Personal Property: This encompasses a wide range of non-physical properties. These include intellectual properties (like patents, trademarks, and copyrights), contracts, and personal goodwill, among others.

  2. Value of Intangible Personal Property: Despite their non-physical nature, intangible assets can have significant value. For instance, a company’s brand name, customer relationships, or software codes can hold immense value, potentially more than their physical assets.

  3. Tax Implications: Intangible personal property often has tax implications. For instance, in the United States, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) considers intangible personal property to be a taxable asset. Thus, when it is sold or transferred, taxes might be due.


Intangible Personal Property is a critical term in business and finance because it refers to non-physical assets owned by individuals or corporations that hold inherent value. These assets can include intellectual property such as patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, brand recognition, goodwill, and business methodologies; as well as financial instruments like stocks, bonds, and investments. Their importance lies in the fact that they can significantly contribute to a company’s value and income-generation capacity. In many companies, especially tech-oriented ones, intangible personal property assets may even surpass the value of tangible assets. Therefore, understanding and protecting these assets are vital for any business’s overall financial strategy and success.


Intangible personal property, one among the spectrum of asset categories, primarily serves the purpose of value creation in diverse ways. The aspect that distinguishes these assets, as the name suggests, is their intangible nature—they don’t have a physical form but essentially hold financial value to the individual or organization that owns them. Examples include patents, copyrights, trademarks, business goodwill, and even digital assets such as domain names and software, which contribute to a business’s potential to generate revenue and profit. Though you can’t touch or see these assets, they offer significant value and can be bought, sold, or licensed.In terms of its usage, intangible personal property is typically incorporated to boost the competitive advantage of a business. For instance, a patented technology or method of operation grants a business exclusive rights to use that innovation, thus creating a unique selling proposition that rivals cannot replicate. The intangible nature of these assets also means they are not subject to physical depreciation over time, as tangible assets are. Moreover, under certain jurisdictions, companies can claim tax benefits on the amortization of these assets. Hence, intangible personal property, while abstract, allows for substantial strategic and financial gains, thereby serving a critical role in modern finance and business.


1. Intellectual Property: This is a broad category of intangible personal property that includes patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. For example, a tech company may own a patent for a specific technology or software they have developed. This patent, although intangible, has significant value as it gives the company exclusive rights to use and profit from this technology.2. Goodwill: In business, goodwill refers to the reputation or brand recognition of a company that can make its products or services more desirable. For instance, a well-established clothing brand like Nike has a significant amount of goodwill due to its recognized brand logo and quality products.3. Financial Assets: These are intangible assets such as stocks, bonds, or bank deposits. For example, if an individual holds shares in a company, they own a piece of the company even though it’s not a physical, tangible asset. This ownership gives them a claim to a part of the company’s assets and earnings.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is Intangible Personal Property?

Intangible Personal Property refers to assets or possessions that hold value but aren’t physical or tangible. Examples include patents, copyright, brand names, licenses, intellectual property, and stocks.

How does Intangible Personal Property differ from Tangible Personal Property?

The key difference lies in the physical existence of the asset. Tangible Personal Property refers to physical assets like cars, furniture, and houses, while Intangible Personal Property includes non-physical items such as digital assets, patents, or shares.

Can Intangible Personal Property have monetary value?

Yes, in fact, Intangible Personal Property can sometimes hold a much greater value than physical assets. This is because the value is based on the rights and privileges granted by the intangible property.

How is Intangible Personal Property taxed?

Depending on your jurisdiction, Intangible Personal Property can be subject to income tax. However, tax rules vary greatly, so it’s wise to consult with a tax advisor for specifics.

Can Intangible Personal Property be sold or transferred?

Yes, like other types of property, Intangible Personal Property can be sold, transferred, or licensed to others. The exact process will depend on the nature of the property and the regulations in place.

How does one measure the value of Intangible Personal Property?

The value of Intangible Personal Property can be hard to measure due to its non-physical nature, but it’s typically based on the future economic benefits it may bring. For certain types of intangible property, like businesses or patents, experts may be needed to assess the value.

How does Intangible Personal Property affect a company’s balance sheet?

On a company’s balance sheet, Intangible Personal Property is typically accounted for in the assets section. The value can significantly contribute to a company’s overall net worth.

Is Intangible Personal Property protected by law?

Yes, many forms of Intangible Personal Property, like trademarks, copyright, and patents, are protected by intellectual property laws. These laws help prevent unauthorized use or replication.

Related Finance Terms

  • Intellectual Property
  • Trademarks
  • Branding Rights
  • Copyright
  • Patents

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