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SIC-32 — Intangible Assets – Web Site Costs

References

History

DateDevelopmentComments
9 July 2001 SIC-D32 Intangible Assets — Web Site Costs published Comment deadline 10 September 2001
25 March 2002 SIC-32 Intangible Assets — Web Site Costs issued Effective 25 March 2002

Summary of SIC-32

SIC-32 concludes that a website developed by an entity using internal expenditure, whether for internal or external access, is an internally generated intangible asset that is subject to the requirements of IAS 38 Intangible Assets.

SIC-32 identifies the following stages of website development:

  • Planning
  • Application and infrastructure development
  • Graphical design development
  • Content development
  • Operating

SIC-32 addresses the appropriate accounting treatment for internal expenditure on each of those stages of development and operation:

  1. A website arising from development should be recognised as an intangible asset if, and only if, in addition to complying with the general requirements described in IAS 38.21 for recognition and initial measurement, an enterprise can satisfy the requirements in IAS 38.57. In particular, an enterprise may be able to satisfy the requirement to demonstrate how its website will generate probable future economic benefits under IAS 38.57(d) when, for example, the website is capable of generating revenues, including direct revenues from enabling orders to be placed. An enterprise is not able to demonstrate how a website developed solely or primarily for promoting and advertising its own products and services will generate probable future economic benefits, and consequently all expenditure on developing such a website should be recognised as an expense when incurred.
  2. Any internal expenditure on the development and operation of an enterprise's own website should be accounted for in accordance with IAS 38. The nature of each activity for which expenditure is incurred (eg training employees and maintaining the website) and the website's stage of development or post-development should be evaluated to determine the appropriate accounting treatment. For example:
    • Planning. The planning stage is similar in nature to the research phase in IAS 38.54-.56. Expenditure incurred in this stage should be recognised as an expense when it is incurred.
    • Application and infrastructure development, graphical design and content development stages. To the extent that content is developed for purposes other than to advertise and promote an enterprise's own products and services, are similar in nature to the development phase in IAS 38.57-.64. Expenditure incurred in these stages should be included in the cost of a website recognised as an intangible asset in accordance with this Interpretation when the expenditure can be directly attributed, or allocated on a reasonable and consistent basis, to preparing the website for its intended use. For example, expenditure on purchasing or creating content (other than content that advertises and promotes an enterprise's own products and services) specifically for a website, or expenditure to enable use of the content (such as a fee for acquiring a licence to reproduce) on the website, should be included in the cost of development when this condition is met. However, in accordance with IAS 38.71, expenditure on an intangible item that was initially recognised as an expense in previous financial statements should not be recognised as part of the cost of an intangible asset at a later date (for instance, when the costs of a copyright have been fully amortised, and the content is subsequently provided on a website).
    • Content development. Expenditure incurred in the content development stage, to the extent that content is developed to advertise and promote an enterprise's own products and services (such as digital photographs of products), should be recognised as an expense when incurred in accordance with IAS 38.69(c). For example, when accounting for expenditure on professional services for taking digital photographs of an enterprise's own products and for enhancing their display, expenditure should be recognised as an expense as the professional services are received during the process, not when the digital photographs are displayed on the website.
    • Operating. The operating stage begins once development of a website is complete. Expenditure incurred in this stage should be recognised as an expense when it is incurred unless it meets the criteria in IAS 38.18.
  3. A website that is recognised as an intangible asset under SIC-32 should be measured after initial recognition by applying the requirements of IAS 38.72-.87. The best estimate of a website's useful life should be short.