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IAS 2 — Cost necessary to sell inventories

Date recorded:

Background

The Committee received a submission asking about the costs an entity includes as part of the estimated costs necessary to make the sale when determining the net realisable value of inventories. There are two different views: View 1—an entity includes all costs needed to make the sale; and View 2—an entity includes only additional costs required by the particular conditions of the inventories to make the sale. The staff opted for View 1 with the analysis applying IAS 2 and stated the reasons for objecting to View 2.

Staff analysis

From the outreach performed, most respondents said writing down inventories is common in some industries and may become more common as a result of COVID-19. A few respondents considered that the estimated selling price is generally the main factor that influences the write-down of inventories to net realisable value. In determining the net realisable value, respondents said that there was diversity in practice and some of them considered that IAS 2 allows different interpretations of what constitutes costs necessary to make the sale.

The staff considered IAS 2:24-26 do not allow an entity to restrict its estimate of the costs necessary to make the sale to only such costs that are incremental and an entity could fail to comply with IAS 2:28 if only incremental costs are included in estimating such costs. An entity should include all costs necessary to make the sale in the ordinary course of business and judgement is required to determine which costs are necessary based on specific facts and circumstances. Selling activities are part of an entities' ordinary course of business and these costs are not always incremental to the sale of inventories. Nonetheless, it is typical that entities would expect the selling price to cover both the cost of purchasing and producing, and costs they must incur to sell them.

The proponents of View 2 interpret "costs necessary to make the sale" as referring only to incremental costs directly attributable to selling the assets because it is consistent with how IAS 36, IFRS 5 and IAS 41 define "costs to sell". The staff disagreed with this on the basis that the term used in these Standards is not the same as that used in IAS 2 and the requirements in IAS 36 and IFRS 5 are not for the measurement of assets that an entity sells in its ordinary course of business. Also, IAS 41 was designed to address the specific characteristics of agricultural activity and incremental costs are appropriate only in the specific context of assets within this scope. In addition, the proponents of View 2 considered it may not be possible to allocate non-incremental costs to individual inventory items because the write-down is by item. The staff responded that an entity is required to allocate the costs to individual inventory items in order to reflect all costs necessary to make the sale in the measurement of net realisable value as required by IAS 2.

Staff recommendation

Based on the above analysis, the staff concluded that the principles and requirements in IAS 2 provide an adequate basis to determine the costs to include when determining the net realisable value of inventories and not to add the matter to the Committee's standard-setting agenda.

Discussion

The Committee members generally agreed that, when determining the net realisable value of inventories, the costs should not be limited to only incremental costs. However, they raised concerns that the concept of "all costs" in View 1 may contradict the predominant practice.

One Committee member commented that the conclusion in the agenda paper for View 1 may be reasonable but it is not the only way to interpret such costs and this view contradicts the predominant practice. Publishing the agenda decision may have broad implications. Given that there is limited guidance in IAS 2 for the definition of such costs, it is not unreasonable that people make reference to US GAAP which defines such costs as "incremental costs" or the definition of costs to sale in other IFRS Standards like IAS 36, IFRS 5 or IAS 41. Therefore, these Committee members considered that View 2 may also be acceptable.

A number of Committee members were confused about the "all costs" and "additional costs" concepts in the two views. They considered neither one represents the costs necessary to make the sale as defined in IAS 2. They agreed that such costs should not be limited only to incremental costs but they were not comfortable that it means "all costs" needed to make the sale. They considered that an agenda decision is not the right medium to comment what is to be included in such costs given the insufficient guidance in IAS 2. Instead of describing it as "all costs", amending it to "estimated costs necessary to make the sale" would better reflect what is required in IAS 2.    

The Committee members, by a vote of majority of 10:4, decided not to add the matter to its standard-setting agenda. On the other hand, after gathering the comments by Committee members, instead of asking the question of whether the Committee agree with the staff paper's analysis, the staff asked if the Committee agreed with amending the agenda decision to emphasise that such costs should not be limited only to incremental costs. The Committee decided, by a majority vote of 9:5, to amend the agenda decision analysis with the above suggestion.

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