As the Financial Accounting Standards Board dries the ink on its pending new lease accounting standard that will bring lease assets and liabilities on to corporate balance sheets, more than a dozen trade and professional groups are making an eleventh-hour appeal for FASB to exempt private companies.
FASB’s Private Company Council, where departures from GAAP for the sake of private companies are first considered, so far has not added any project to its agenda to consider any relief from the new leasing standard. The letter is signed by Financial Executives International, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and a variety of groups representing truckers, building owners, real estate agents, shopping centers, community bankers, and others.
The new leasing standard, which FASB has been working over the past decade to develop, is expected to be issued in final form no later than the end of March, possibly by the end of February. FASB said in late 2015 it would set an effective date for the new leasing standard of 2019 for public business entities and certain nonprofits and employee benefit plans that file statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission. For all other entities, the standard would take effect in 2020.
The groups tell FASB they are concerned application of the new lease accounting requirements to private companies will exacerbate complexity and harm capital formation while not even providing investors in private companies with information they will find useful.
“The needs of private company financial statement users and the capital formation mechanisms used by those same businesses are much different than their public company counterparts,” the letter says. “We respectfully request that more information be released to understand the private company capital providers consulted and the needs that are being addressed. Most importantly, we request that the lease accounting standard not be applied to private companies.”
A FASB spokesman says the letter will be given due consideration. “We appreciate the input provided by the organizations, and will consider it as we do all comment letters,” she said.