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FASB, IASB Ready Comprehensive Income Requirements

Tammy Whitehouse | February 4, 2010

The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board reached some key agreements this week to finalize a proposed new approach for explaining income information to investors.

The two boards reached some verbal agreements in their joint project on how companies would be required—or in some cases allowed—to present information in a “statement of comprehensive income,” a new financial statement that would replace the existing income statement.

The idea is to provide a more comprehensive view of an entity’s income, in part to scuttle the almighty reliance currently placed on the “net income” figure that becomes the bottom line on existing income statements. The new statement is aimed at giving a more balanced view of not only profit-and-loss figures but also other comprehensive income, which reflects gains and losses that have not yet been realized. That often includes things like gains or losses on securities or derivatives, pension costs, or foreign investments and currency hedges.

At a joint meeting, the two boards agreed that an entity would be required to display total comprehensive income and its components in the new statement of comprehensive income, but it will have some flexibility to name the two key sections. One section has to display profit-or-loss figures, and the other has to display other comprehensive income as it is defined in current accounting standards.

The boards agreed they’ll retain existing requirements that give entities an option to display components of other comprehensive income before or after related income tax expense has been factored in, but they have to provide one amount for the aggregate income tax effects on the face of the statement. Entities can decide if they will link income tax effects related to each component of other comprehensive income on the face of the statement or in the footnotes.

The new standard will not redefine what goes into other comprehensive income or what goes into each of its components, the boards determined. Staff at FASB and IASB are preparing the draft standard that will be voted on by both boards. The boards are projecting an exposure draft to be published at the end of the first quarter.