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Year-end accounting recap

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) hasn’t issued any major new accounting rules in 2019. But there have been some important developments to be aware of when preparing annual financial statements under U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP).

Deferral of major accounting rules

Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2019-09 delays the effective date of the updated guidance for long-term insurance contracts. For public business entities, except smaller reporting companies (SRCs), the effective date is delayed until fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2021. For all other entities, the effective date is postponed until fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2023.

In addition, ASU 2019-10 defers the effective dates for three other ASUs as follows:

1. ASU 2016-02, Leases. For public business entities (including SRCs) and certain nonprofit organizations and employee benefit plans, the effective date remains as fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018. For all other entities, the effective date is deferred to fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2020.

2. ASU 2016-13, Financial Instruments — Credit Losses: Measurement of Credit Losses on Financial Instruments. For public business entities that don’t meet the definition of an SRC, the effective date remains fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2019. For all other entities, the effective date is deferred to fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2022.

3. ASU 2017-12, Derivatives and Hedging: Targeted Improvements to Accounting for Hedging Activities. For public business entities (including SRCs) the effective date remains as fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2018. For all other entities, the effective date is deferred to fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2020.

Effective dates going forward

ASU 2019-10 also updates the FASB’s philosophy for setting the effective dates for all major ASUs going forward. It will group entities into two overall buckets, as follows:

Bucket 1. Large public companies that are SEC filers and don’t meet the SEC definition of SRCs, and

Bucket 2. Entities other than large public companies, including SRCs, private companies, nonprofit entities and employee benefit plans.

In general, the FASB plans to set the effective dates of major ASUs for Bucket 2 entities at least two years after the initial effective dates for entities in Bucket 1.

Revenue recognition

Starting in 2019, private companies that follow GAAP must use an updated five-step method to recognize revenue from long-term contracts. Public companies that made the switch in 2018 report that the process was more difficult than expected.

Unfortunately, many private companies underestimate the amount of work it takes to apply the updated rules — and many accounting software solutions can’t effectively handle the changes, including the disclosure requirements. If you haven’t started implementing the updated revenue recognition guidance, contact us to get you back on track.

Other developments

Throughout 2019, the FASB has issued some other narrow-scope accounting rules, including guidance that 1) updates the rules for reporting share-based payments to customers and nonemployees, 2) extends the scope of private company alternatives for reporting goodwill to nonprofit organizations, and 3) clarifies major accounting standards updates. Contact us to discuss how the changes to GAAP, including various proposed amendments, will affect your financial statements in 2019 and beyond.

© 2019

Get ready for the new lease standard

A new accounting rule for reporting leases goes into effect in 2019 for public companies. Although private companies have been granted a one-year reprieve, no business should wait until the last minute to start the implementation process. Some recently revised guidance is intended to ease implementation. Here’s an overview of what’s changing.

Old rules, new rules

Under the existing rules, companies must record lease obligations on their balance sheets only if the arrangements are considered financing transactions. Few arrangements get recorded, because accounting rules give companies leeway to arrange the agreements in a way that they can be treated as simple rentals for financial reporting purposes. If an obligation isn’t recorded on a balance sheet, it makes a business look like it is less leveraged than it really is.

In 2016, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued a new standard that calls for major changes to current accounting practices for leases. In a nutshell, Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2016-02, Leases (Topic 842), will require companies to recognize on their balance sheets the assets and liabilities associated with rentals.

Most existing arrangements that currently are reported as leases will continue to be reported as leases under the new standard. In addition, the new definition is expected to encompass many more types of arrangements that aren’t reported as leases under current practice.

Revised guidance

Recently, the FASB revised two provisions to make the lease guidance easier to apply:

1. Modified retrospective approach. Upon adoption of the new lease accounting standard, companies may elect to present results using the current lease guidance for prior periods. This will allow management to focus on accounting for current and future transactions under the new rules — rather than looking backward at old leases.

2. Maintenance charges. On March 28, the FASB agreed to give lessors and property managers the option not to separately account for the fees for “common area maintenance” charges, such as security, elevator repairs and snow removal.

In addition, the FASB has provided a practical expedient to utilities, oil-and-gas companies and energy providers that hold rights-of-way to accommodate gas pipelines or electric wires. Under the revised guidance, companies that hold such land easements won’t have to sort through years of old contracts to determine whether they meet the definition of a lease. This practical expedient applies only to existing land easements, however.

Need help?

The lease standard is expected to add more than $1.25 trillion of operating lease obligations to public company balance sheets starting in 2018. How will it affect your business? Contact us to help answer this question and evaluate which of your contracts must be reported as lease obligations under the new rules.

© 2018