FASB, IASB clarify revenue recognition issues

Separate updates are designed to assist in implementation.

Two accounting standards updates issued by FASB and a separate update by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) are designed to clarify the new revenue recognition standard and assist preparers in implementation.

FASB clarified the application of revenue recognition guidance related to whether an entity is a principal or an agent in Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2016-08, Revenue From Contracts With Customers (Topic 606): Principal versus Agent Considerations (Reporting Revenue Gross versus Net).

FASB also issued guidance designed to help preparers with identifying performance obligations and implementing licensing guidance under the new revenue recognition standard. That guidance is contained in ASU No. 2016-10, Revenue From Contracts With Customers (Topic 606): Identifying Performance Obligations and Licensing.

The IASB issued Clarifications to IFRS 15, which contains the international board's updates to the revenue recognition standard.

FASB and the IASB issued the converged revenue recognition standards in May 2014. The standard is designed to provide principles-based guidance and enable comparability across industries and jurisdictions for some of the most important metrics in financial reporting.

Through the boards' Transition Resource Group, preparers informed FASB and the IASB of implementation concerns related to the standard. The boards issued a one-year delay in the effective date of the standard and have been working to address the implementation concerns.

The boards worked together on developing clarifications but did not always reach the same conclusions. ASU No. 2016-08 and ASU No. 2016-10 are FASB's first updates to the revenue recognition standard; another ASU is expected on collectibility, contract modifications, completed contracts at transition, and noncash considerations. All of the IASB's changes are contained in Clarifications to IFRS 15.

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