FASB clarifies revenue guidance on practical expedients

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10 May 2016

The US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2016-12 'Narrow-Scope Improvements and Practical Expedients', which amends certain aspects of the Board’s new revenue standard, ASU 2014-09 'Revenue From Contracts With Customers'.

The amendments, which were issued in response to feedback received by the FASB–IASB joint revenue recognition transition resource group (TRG), include the following:

  • Collectibility — ASU 2016-12 clarifies the objective of the entity’s collectibility assessment and contains new guidance on when an entity would recognise as revenue consideration it receives if the entity concludes that collectibility is not probable.
  • Presentation of sales tax collected from customers — Entities are permitted to present revenue net of sales taxes collected on behalf of governmental authorities (i.e., to exclude from the transaction price sales taxes that meet certain criteria). A similar policy election does not exist under the IASB's new revenue standard, IFRS 15 Revenue from Contracts with Customers.
  • Noncash consideration — An entity’s calculation of the transaction price for contracts containing noncash consideration would include the fair value of the noncash consideration to be received as of the contract inception date. Further, subsequent changes in the fair value of noncash consideration after contract inception would be subject to the variable consideration constraint only if the fair value varies for reasons other than its form. IFRS 15 does not prescribe the measurement date.
  • Contract modifications at transition — The ASU establishes a practical expedient for contract modifications at transition and defines completed contracts as those for which all (or substantially all) revenue was recognised under the applicable revenue guidance before the new revenue standard was initially applied.
  • Transition technical correction — Entities that elect to use the full retrospective transition method to adopt the new revenue standard would no longer be required to disclose the effect of the change in accounting principle on the period of adoption (as is currently required by ASC 250-10-50-1(b)(2)); however, entities would still be required to disclose the effects on preadoption periods that were retrospectively adjusted. IFRS 15 defines a completed contract as one for which an entity has transferred all goods or services identified in accordance with existing IFRS. IFRS 15 also provides an additional practical expedient that permits an entity electing the full retrospective method to apply IFRS 15 retrospectively only to contracts that are not completed contracts as of the beginning of the earliest period presented. No such expedient is included in Topic 606.

Last month, the IASB published final clarifications to its revenue standard, IFRS 15. The FASB’s ASU states:

Although the amendments in this Update are not identical, and some are incremental, to the amendments the IASB decided to make to its final standard, Clarifications to IFRS 15, the FASB expects that the amendments generally will maintain the convergence that was achieved with the issuance of Update 2014-09 and IFRS 15 by reducing the potential for diversity arising in practice. Significant diversity in application could substantially reduce the benefits achieved by converged guidance.

The amendments in this Update do not change the core principle for revenue recognition in Topic 606. Instead, the amendments provide clarifying guidance in a few narrow areas and add some practical expedients to the guidance. The amendments are expected to reduce the degree of judgment necessary to comply with Topic 606, which the FASB expects will reduce the potential for diversity arising in practice and reduce the cost and complexity of applying the guidance.

The ASU’s effective date and transition provisions are aligned with the requirements in the new revenue standard, which is not yet effective. For more information, see the ASU on the FASB’s website.

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