Wednesday, September 16, 2009

FASB review of comment letters

This morning, the FASB met to review the comment letters to the Preliminary Views document. No decisions were made at the meeting. The audio is available until the next meeting at

A few notable items from the discussion:
  • There is concern that more attention needs to be given to distinguishing between a service contract and a lease. Up to now, the accounting for operating leases and service contracts hasn't been significantly different, so it hasn't been a big issue. But with leases subject to capitalization, the difference becomes much more substantial, so people are much more concerned. The board plans to discuss this issue in more depth in upcoming months.
  • As previously noted, many respondents disagree with including options in the capitalized value of a lease. Some members of the FASB are concerned that options are being handled inconsistently in different aspects of accounting (such as financial instruments and revenue recognition)--some are handled through recognition, others through measurement.
  • There has been a background discussion of "in-substance purchases" throughout the entire lease accounting project. This reappeared, with the mention that the Leases Working Group meeting earlier this month brought up the issue as being very important to lessors, probably more important than to lessees. The definition of "in-substance purchase" seems to be confined to leases with an ownership transfer or bargain purchase option (the first two tests of capitalization under FAS 13, which currently require the leased asset to be depreciated over the economic life rather than the lease term). Lessors particularly want such leases to be treated like purchases, rather than with right-to-use accounting.
  • Some respondents questioned whether appropriate due process would be followed if lessor accounting didn't go through a preliminary views document. Board members do not think that is a due process requirement; they believe it is sufficient to provide an exposure draft and respond to comments to that. The implication is that they don't want to slow down completion of the leasing project.

The FASB and IASB will have a joint meeting October 26-28. Lessor accounting is part of the agenda for that meeting.

Correction: In my August 27 blog entry, I said that the September 3 meeting of the Leases Working Group was the first in 2-1/2 years. That was incorrect. The Group also met on October 7, 2008, to discuss the proposed Preliminary Views document. A summary of the meeting is available here, but I won't take the time to review it in this blog, since it's pretty old news by now. I have not yet seen any information (or audio) posted about the September 3 meeting.

No comments:

Post a Comment