Thursday, March 17, 2011

2015 implementation?

The new leasing standard is one of several major standard revision projects the FASB & IASB have underway. Others include revenue recognition and insurance contracts, which are considered heavily interrelated with the leases, and other comprehensive income, fair value measurements, financial instruments with characteristics of equity, and financial statement presentation, which are considered more independent of other standards.

The boards put out a separate Exposure Draft asking for comments on implementation dates. While the volume of comments wasn't nearly as high as for the leases ED, the consensus response was that the impending changes are major, and financial statement preparers need substantial time to update their systems. At the boards' combined March 2 meeting, the boards didn't decide whether to implement the three linked standards (leases, revenue recognition, and insurance contracts) at the same time or in staggered order, but stated that they "will provide adequate time for stakeholders to apply the new requirements." Several members of the IASB stated a preference for 1/1/2015 as the implementation date, while most FASB members didn't want to make a commitment to a date at this time, and several expressed a preference for a staggered implementation.

Note that since U.S. companies typically report two years of comparables, and the leases ED says those comparable years will need to be restated on implementation, that means that effectively companies would need to apply the standard effective 1/1/2013, even though they wouldn't be reporting the results accordingly until later. It's not clear yet whether earlier implementation will be encouraged or permitted.

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