Guidance on software revenue recognition

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12 May 2009

In October 1997, the American Institute of CPAs published Statement of Position (SOP) 97-2 Software Revenue Recognition.

SOP 97-21 provides guidance on revenue recognition for software and software-related products. While primarily developed for the software industry, the SOP increasingly applies to other industries in which software has become more than incidental to products and services. While IAS 18 addresses revenue recognition broadly, there is no parallel in IFRSs to SOP 97-2. Since the issuance of SOP 97-2, US standard setters released a wide range of guidance (over 50 publications in all!) clarifying specific aspects of software revenue recognition, including SOP 98-4, SOP 98-9, various AICPA Technical Practice Aids, EITF Issues, and SEC guidance. Nevertheless, as software technology continues to evolve, entities are continually confronting new challenges in recognising revenue for software arrangements. Deloitte United States has published the second edition of Software Revenue Recognition – A Roadmap to Applying AICPA Statement of Position 97-2 (PDF 169 pages, 886k) to address some of the most difficult-to-interpret provisions of SOP 97-2 as well as provide a new overview of the main topics in SOP 97-2 under the following headings:
  • Scope
  • Basic revenue recognition principles
  • Multiple-element arrangements
  • Additional software products, upgrade rights, and discounts
  • Postcontract customer support (PCS)
  • Services
  • Contract accounting

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