Some of the trickiest questions yet in adopting the new revenue recognition standard are addressed in new drafts of proposed accounting guidance issued by a committee of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
The AICPA’s task forces on software, telecommunications, asset management, and gaming have issued seven new working drafts to explain the consensus views among task force participants on how to address some of the most challenging aspects of the new standard. The Financial Reporting Executive Committee of the AICPA has published the new working drafts to seek public views through Dec. 5, adding to earlier drafts meant to help companies sort out what to do as they work to adopt the new rules.
The software task force addressed four separate issues in its newest working draft with the hope of putting to rest persistent questions around determining whether software intellectual property in cloud computing arrangements is considered distinct for accounting purposes. That would affect how performance obligations are identified, and therefore how revenue associated with them ultimately would be recognized. Working drafts also address the definition and identification of potential price concessions, the estimating of standalone selling price, and the estimating of standalone selling price for options that are identified as performance obligations.
In other sectors, the telecommunications group takes on the questions around disclosure and transition, while the asset management group seeks to explain the recognition of contingent deferred sales charges. The gaming task force draft digs into the accounting for base progressive and incremental progressive jackpot amounts.
All public companies reporting under U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles are required in 2018 to adopt the new revenue recognition standard written by the Financial Accounting Standards Board. FASB’s Transition Resource Group has worked through some implementation questions and has made some clarifications to the language of the standard to address those.
As the new standard does away with prescriptive, industry-specific guidance in current GAAP, companies in those sectors are looking for help on how to apply the new principles to their sector-specific questions. That prompted the AICPA to form the industry task forces, whose work when completed will be compiled into a single Accounting Guide on Revenue Recognition.
The AICPA says the guide will provide “helpful hints and illustrative examples” to help companies work through industyr-specific questions. So far, the AICPA says, 10 of the 16 industry task forces have published working drafts in pursuit of public comment and feedback.