A committed cost is an investment that a business entity has already made and cannot recover by any means, as well as obligations already made that the business cannot get out of. You should be aware of which costs are committed costs when you are reviewing company expenditures for possible cutbacks or asset sales.
Committed cost is a fixed cost which results from the decisions of the management in the prior period and is not subject to the management control in the present on a short run basis. They arise from the possession of production facilities, equipment, an organization setup, etc.
Some examples of committed costs are: plant and equipment depreciation, taxes, insurance premium and rent charges.
Committed cost is also know as sunk cost, it is cost which has already been incurred in the past. It is not relevant for decision making and is caused by complete abandonment as against temporary shut down. This should be constrasted with discretionary costs, which are avoidable costs.
For example, if a company buys a machine for $40,000 and also issues a purchase order to pay for a maintenance contract for $2,000 in each of the next three years, all $46,000 is a committed cost, because the company has already bought the machine, and has a legal obligation to pay for the maintenance. A multi-year property lease agreement is also a committed cost for the full term of the lease, since it is extremely difficult to terminate a lease agreement.
There is usually a long-term legal agreement associated with a committed cost. If not, it is much easier to negotiate the termination of an expense.