Companies getting a jump start on adopting the new accounting requirements for leasing will be happy to learn that the Securities and Exchange Commission will not require all five years of the selected financial data table to reflect the new accounting.
At a regular quarterly meeting of SEC staff with the Center for Audit Quality’s SEC Regulations Committee, staff members said companies should follow the transition provision contained in the new rule, Accounting Standards Update No. 2016-02, which says the rules should be applied to financial statements.
That means companies will apply the new rules only to the three years presented in the complete set of financial statements, not the five years worth of selected data provided in the financial data table that is contained in the annual filing. With the lease accounting rules taking effect in 2019, financial statements will present information for 2019, 2018, and 2017 under the new requirements.
“The selected financial data for 2016 and 2015 are not considered comparative financial statements and therefore do not change the date of initial application of the new leasing standard for purposes of GAAP,” the CAQ reports in its recently published highlights from the meeting. Companies will need to provide disclosure, however, to explain any lack of comparability.
Members of the CAQ committee quizzed SEC staff on whether that same relief will be extended where companies revise annual financial statements in connection with a new or amended registration statement after the first-quarter 2019 filing. Normally, such a filing might require companies to present at least one extra historical year of financial information following the same accounting.
“The staff indicated that it is in the process of considering this question and determining whether and, if so, how to communicate any views related to this and other transition issues,” the CAQ reported.
The SEC staff has heard similar questions as companies work through adoption of the new revenue recognition standard. In that case, the SEC has indicated it will expect the normal filing rules to apply, but noted GAAP provides an out when presenting the extra year would be impracticable. Wes Bricker, deputy chief accountant at the SEC, said the staff will entertain case-by-case discussions on any hardships.
With respect to annual 10-K filings, however, the SEC has already said companies will not be required to provide five years of revenue data under the new revenue recognition standard.