In reconsidering corporate disclosures, the Financial Accounting Standards Board has determined financial statement users could benefit from more information about income taxes, especially disclosures that distinguish between domestic and foreign tax obligations.
FASB proposed a change to the disclosure requirements under Topic 740 in the Accounting Standards Codification that would require public companies to add nearly a dozen new items to their existing income tax disclosures, including income or losses from continuing operations along with income tax expense or benefit, separated by domestic and foreign operations.
The disclosures would include income taxes paid between domestic and foreign entities, and the amount of income tax paid to any country that is considered significant to total income taxes paid. Companies would need to provide an aggregate of cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities held by foreign subsidiaries, and would need to explain any circumstances that led to a change in an assertion that earnings in a given country are indefinitely reinvested there.
For public companies only, FASB also would require disclosure of settlements using existing deferred tax assets separate from those that will be settled in cash, and the line items in the statement of financial position where unrecognized tax benefits are presented. Public companies also would disclose more details around valuation allowances and unrecognized tax benefits that offset deferred tax assets or carryforwards.
FASB isn’t the only entity looking for more transparency on foreign tax obligations. The U.S. Treasury has turned companies in knots over a pair initiatives related to foreign tax issues. One is meant to disallow some common tax benefits that the current administration regards as abusive in avoiding U.S. tax obligations. A recent final ruling is meant to enhance country-by-country reporting under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting plan.
FASB’s proposed disclosures are part of the board’s broader project to reconsider all of its disclosure requirements, looking to improve the effectiveness of disclosures by assuring companies communicate the information that’s most important to users of financial statements. In addition to exploring improvements in income tax disclosures, the board is also working on improvements to disclosures around defined benefit plans, fair value, and inventory.
FASB is accepting comments on the proposed disclosure changes through Sept. 30.