New FASB standards keep focus on simplification

Rules apply to reporting of certain retirement obligations and assets and accounting for cloud-computing vendor fees.

FASB issued separate accounting standards that are designed to simplify reporting of certain employer retirement obligations and assets, as well as provide explicit guidance about how to account for fees paid in a cloud-computing arrangement.

New measurement guidelines are included in Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2015-04, Compensation—Retirement Benefits (Topic 715): Practical Expedient for the Measurement Date of an Employer's Defined Benefit Obligation and Plan Assets.

Under the standard, an entity with a fiscal year end that does not coincide with a month end will be permitted to measure defined benefit plan assets and obligations using the month end that is closest to the entity's fiscal year end.

Preparers are required to disclose this accounting policy election and the date used to measure defined benefit plan assets and obligations. The expedient does not apply to employee benefit plans, but a FASB proposal issued in April would extend the expedient to employee benefit plans, if approved.

Meanwhile, explicit guidance on how to account for cloud-computing vendor fees is included in ASU No. 2015-05, Intangibles—Goodwill and Other—Internal-Use Software (Subtopic 350-40): Customer's Accounting for Fees Paid in a Cloud Computing Arrangement.

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