Regulators Revise Proposal for Revenue Recognition

Jack Humphrey, Regulatory journalist
November 15, 2011 /

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) have jointly issued for public comment a revised draft standard to improve and converge the financial reporting requirements of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) and US General Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for revenue (and some related costs) from contracts with customers.

The revision has been met with open arms by the accounting firm KPMG.

“It’s good news that the Boards listened to much of the feedback on the first round of proposals. All interested parties now have one more chance to influence a new standard on revenue,” Brian O’Donovan, partner in KPMG’s International Standards Group, said.

The boards decided to re-expose the proposals because of the importance of the financial reporting of revenue to all entities and the boards’ desire to avoid unintended consequences arising from the final standard.

The proposed standard would improve IFRSs and US GAAP by providing a more robust framework for addressing revenue recognition issues; removing inconsistencies from existing requirements; improving comparability across companies, industries and capital markets; providing more useful information to users of financial statements through improved disclosure requirements; and simplifying the preparation of financial statements by streamlining the volume of accounting guidance.

The core principle of this revised proposed standard is the same as that of the 2010 exposure draft, which states that an entity would recognise revenue from contracts with customers when it transfers promised goods or services to the customer.

The amount of revenue recognised would be the amount of consideration promised by the customer in exchange for the transferred goods or services. However, in response to feedback received from nearly 1000 comment letters on the 2010 exposure draft and extensive outreach activities, the boards further refined their original proposals.

In particular they added guidance on how to determine when a good or service is transferred over time. They also simplified the proposals on warranties, and how an entity would determine a transaction price (including collectibility, time value of money, and variable consideration).

Further, they modified the scope of the onerous test to apply to long-term services only, added a practical expedient that permits an entity to recognise as an expense costs of obtaining a contract (if one year or less); and provided exemption from some disclosures for non-public entities that apply US GAAP.

If adopted, the proposed standard would replace IAS 18 Revenue, IAS 11 Construction Contracts and related Interpretations. In US GAAP, it would replace the guidance on revenue recognition in Topic 605 of the FASB Accounting Standards Codification.

“Revenue is the top line and it is important to every business. Our proposals will give analysts and investors the confidence that revenue is being presented on a consistent basis, across industries and continents,” Hans Hoogervorst, chairman of the IASB, said.

Leslie F. Seidman, chairman of the FASB, added: “Because this proposed standard would affect companies across a wide range of industries, we are taking this additional quality control step to ensure that the final standard is well understood by companies, auditors and investors before it is issued as a final standard.”

Seidman said the FASB is planning to conduct additional outreach with interested parties during the comment period to help people understand the proposed guidance and to listen to any remaining concerns.

The exposure draft is open for comment until 13 March 2012.


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