Test for Impairment Turns Simple with Accounting Standard Changes

Jack Humphrey, Regulatory journalist
August 12, 2011 /

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has approved the revision on accounting standard that simplifies how an entity tests goodwill for impairment.

The FASB issued its initial proposal for revising the testing of goodwill for impairment in an Exposure Draft in April 2011. The FASB expects to issue a final Accounting Standards Update in September 2011.

“The Board’s decision today comes as a direct result of what we heard from private companies, which had expressed concerns about the cost and complexity of performing the goodwill impairment test,” states FASB member Daryl Buck.

The Financial Reporting Executive Committee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants said on April there were many issues omitted by FASB in its impairment model for accounting for financial assets and the proposal’s concept does not look ‘sound’.

“The amendments approved by the Board address those concerns and will simplify the process for public and nonpublic entities alike.”

Before, entities were required to test goodwill for impairment, on at least an annual basis, by first comparing the fair value of a reporting unit with its carrying amount, including goodwill, FASB noted.

If the fair value of a reporting unit is less than its carrying amount, then the second step of the test is to be performed to measure the amount of impairment loss, if any.

The revised accounting standard will now allow entities to first assess qualitative factors to determine whether it is necessary to perform the two-step quantitative goodwill impairment test.

An entity no longer will be required to calculate the fair value of a reporting unit unless the entity determines, based on a qualitative assessment, that it is more likely than not that its fair value is less than its carrying amount.

The guidance also includes examples of the types of factors to consider in conducting the qualitative assessment.

The amendments will take effect for annual and interim goodwill impairment tests performed for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2011. Early adoption will also be permitted.

Since 1973, the Financial Accounting Standards Board has been the designated organization in the private sector for establishing standards of financial accounting and reporting. Those standards govern the preparation of financial reports and are officially recognized as authoritative by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.


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