The Financial Accounting Standards Board on Wednesday ruled unanimously on tentative effective date delays to standards affecting revenue recognition and leases as part of a virtual board meeting in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
FASB staff weighed in on concerns raised by stakeholders as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on financial markets across the globe. The decisions to propose the delay of effective dates of certain standards in addition to taking a slower approach to new standard setting moving forward was made with the current climate in mind.
“This is not the right environment in which to be introducing change, which brings with it risk of implementation issues,” said Board Member Marsha Hunt. “I think it’s more supportive of all these entities if we can take this off their plate so they can focus on their operational concerns right now.”
The tentative decisions made at the meeting will proceed directly to a 15-day public comment period. The Board will redeliberate once comments are received.
Among the tentative decisions ruled on was a one-year delay to the effective date of Topic 842 (Leases) for private companies and private not-for-profit (NFP) entities. The standard is set to take effect for the aforementioned for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2020, and interim periods within fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2021.
Also getting a one-year break would be public NFPs (universities and hospitals, for example) that have not yet issued financial statements since Topic 842 went in effect for them beginning after Dec. 15, 2019, including interim periods within those fiscal years. The delay would include subsequent amendments to the leases standard. Early adoption will still be accepted.
“I think many of the small businesses that will be impacted by this potential deferral are the exact kind that ought to be focusing on preserving their business and getting up and running,” said Board Member James Kroeker.
FASB also tentatively ruled on a one-year delay for Topic 606 (Revenue from Contracts with Customers) for franchisors that are not public business entities (PBEs). The standard’s current effective date is for annual reporting periods beginning after Dec. 15, 2019, and interim reporting periods within annual reporting periods beginning after Dec. 15, 2020.
The amendment for franchisors that are not PBEs is optional and would similarly apply to subsequent amendments to the standard. Also unanimously approved was the addition of a research project to the Board agenda to evaluate how to reduce the costs of implementation of applying Topic 606 to initial franchise fees.
FASB Senior Project Manager Mary Mazzella noted the decision to focus on franchisors was because “they proactively reached out to us on the issue.” Broad relief for deferrals on revenue was not requested, Mazzella said.
Outgoing FASB Chairman Russell Golden added that the Board is committed to understanding the coronavirus impact on standards with effective dates of 2022 and beyond and said decisions on those could be brought before future meetings once operations are closer to normal.
Not addressed in the meeting was Topic 326 on credit losses. The CECL standard, which requires companies to take a “current expected credit losses” approach to recognizing the state of credit-based instruments in financial statements, was explicitly singled out for optional delay as part of the $2 trillion stimulus package passed by Congress and signed off on by President Trump on March 27.
The package, referred to as the CARES Act, says banks and insured depository institutions are temporarily off the hook for being required to comply with the standard, which took effect in January, until the national emergency declared by President Trump on March 13 is terminated, or Dec. 31, 2020—whichever comes first.
Sagar Teotia, chief accountant at the Securities and Exchange Commission, noted in a public statement on April 3 that the delay to CECL, in addition to temporary relief from accounting for troubled debt restructurings (TDRs) laid out in the CARES Act, have been deemed in accordance with GAAP.
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