The Financial Accounting Standards Board has issued another proposed update to the massive new standard on revenue recognition to address more technical corrections and upgrades on a handful of narrow issues.
As with earlier revisions to the standard, the latest proposal is meant to clarify what the board originally had in mind in 2014 when it finalized the new revenue recognition requirements, which take effect for public companies in 2018. The new standard replaces hundreds of historical accounting pronouncements adopted piecemeal over many years to tell companies when and in what amounts they should recognize revenue in financial statements.
The current batch of corrections includes new language to make it clear that loan guarantee fees are not within the scope of the new revenue recognition standard, along with amendments to clarify the requirements around contract assets and receivables. Additional issues addressed in the current proposal include clarifications around how to treat refund liabilities and how to treat advertising costs.
FASB is inviting comments on the proposal to assure it addresses questions that companies have raised as they have worked through preparations to implement the new standard. The comment period is short, however, with responses due by Oct. 4. The board is trying to finalize any outstanding revisions to the standard so companies will have firm and final guidance as they continue to move toward adoption.
In a recent webcast to explain the new standard, a poll of more than 1,600 participants revealed 18 percent of participants reported their organizations have made “significant progress” to prepare for the new standard, while 25 percent said they had recently started. Another one-fourth said they had not yet begun any implementation activity, and the rest of the webcast participants did not represent the corporate preparer community.
FASB has already delayed the original 2017 effective date by one year to give companies more time to prepare for adoption. In FASB’s recent webcast, James Kroeker, vice chairman of FASB, indicated the board is not having any new discussions around deferring the effective date further. The board also regards the latest technical corrections proposal as likely the last revision that will need to be made to the standard that would apply to public companies, unless something new materializes through the activity of the Transition Resource Group.
The TRG has vetted dozens of implementation questions and referred a handful to FASB for clarification through the rule-making process. That prompted FASB to issue clarifications around identifying performance obligations, licensing agreements, recognizing revenue on a net versus gross basis, and other narrow-scope clarifications and practical expedients.