In its quest to simplify accounting standards, the Financial Accounting Standards Board has adopted a new provision in GAAP that spares companies the requirement to display extraordinary and unusual items in financial statements.
FASB adopted Accounting Standards Update No. 2015-01 to revise requirements for the income statement that have long instructed companies to separately present any items that are unusual or occur infrequently. In practice, FASB says, companies rarely presented extraordinary items in the income statement, so the revision to accounting rules now spares them the analysis that companies typically undertake to determine whether specific transactions or items should be treated as extraordinary.
“Preparers and auditors often spent considerable time and effort assessing items for potential classification as extraordinary,” says PwC in an alert to clients on the new accounting rule. “This will no longer be necessary under the revised guidance.”
Under the historical requirement, companies were required to assess whether items were unusual in nature, meaning they were highly abnormal and not related to the normal activities of the entity, and at the same time occurred infrequently. FASB said it heard from stakeholders that companies often faced uncertainty over when an item should be considered both unusual and infrequent, and it also heard from from stakeholders that users of financial statements don’t find the extraordinary classification to be all that necessary.
“Eliminating the concept of extraordinary items will save time and reduce costs for preparers because they will not have to assess whether a particular event or transaction event is extraordinary (even if they ultimately would conclude it is not),” FASB wrote in summarizing the new rule. “This also alleviates uncertainty for preparers, auditors, and regulators because auditors and regulators no longer will need to evaluate whether a preparer treated an unusual and/or infrequent item appropriately.”
The standard is effective for annual and interim periods beginning after Dec 15, 2015, but companies are allowed to adopt it early if they do so at the beginning of a fiscal period.