FASB to propose delaying effective dates for 4 major standards

By Ken Tysiac

FASB plans to propose delaying effective dates for four key standards for certain groups of financial statement preparers after a series of votes taken at a board meeting Wednesday.

The plan to delay effective dates for certain companies for accounting for leases, credit losses, hedging, and long-duration insurance contracts is FASB’s response to the burden placed on preparers by the board’s ambitious standard-setting activities.

“What we’re doing here makes sense,” FASB member Gary Buesser said during the meeting, “because these are major standards that are difficult to implement.”

Coupled with the recent implementation of a highly challenging revenue recognition standard, FASB’s numerous new rules have created significant difficulties, especially for private companies whose financial reporting staffs have limited capacity.

The board voted to ask its staff to prepare an exposure draft proposing the new effective dates for accounting for leases, credit losses, and hedging. A second ED would propose new dates for long-duration insurance contracts. Upon approval by FASB, the EDs would be issued with 30-day comment periods. FASB indicated a desire to prioritize the ED for leases, credit losses, and hedging because the effective dates for the insurance standard are in the more distant future.

FASB’s proposal plans include changes for:

  • Lease accounting: The new effective date for calendar-year-end preparers that are not public business entities would be Jan. 1, 2021. The effective date for calendar-year-end public business entities, employee benefit plans, and not-for-profit conduit bond obligors is Jan. 1, 2019, and would remain unchanged.
  • Accounting for credit losses: The effective date for calendar-year-end SEC filers, excluding smaller reporting companies as defined by the SEC, would remain Jan. 1, 2020. The new effective date for all other calendar-year-end entities would be Jan. 1, 2023. This change would extend the effective date for smaller reporting companies, private companies, and other non-SEC filers. The proposed change would treat smaller reporting companies like SEC emerging growth companies for purposes of the standard.
  • Derivatives and hedging: The effective date for calendar-year-end public business entities is Jan. 1, 2019, and would remain unchanged. The new effective date for calendar-year-end preparers that are not public business entities would be Jan. 1, 2021, an extension of one year.
  • Long-duration insurance contracts: The new effective dates would be Jan. 1, 2022, for calendar-year-end public business entities and Jan. 1, 2024, for all other entities with a calendar year end.

FASB’s staff cited numerous factors that led to the reconsideration of effective dates, including:

  • Availability of resources.
  • Time required to educate staff.
  • Opportunity to learn from implementation issues described in large public company filings and SEC comment letters.
  • Application of difficult transition guidance.
  • Challenges in the development of IT system solutions, IT expertise, and effective business solutions and internal controls.

The board would leave early adoption options unchanged.

FASB member Hal Schroeder said he found that companies said they had the ability to get the accounting correct under the earlier effective dates. But they told him that a delay in the effective dates would allow them to improve their processes and entire business approach related to the new standards as they perform the implementation.

“More time simply allows more education,” said FASB Vice Chairman James Kroeker.

In particular, the lease accounting standard requires substantial work to locate and gather lease contracts and extract the necessary data for performing the new accounting. Vendors’ development of software to perform lease accounting under the new standard also was slower than some had expected.

Meanwhile, the credit losses standard requires complicated financial modeling that is difficult for smaller entities.

The concerns of preparers led the AICPA’s Technical Issues Committee (TIC) to send FASB a letter in May requesting a delay in the lease accounting standard effective date for private companies. The Associated General Contractors of America sent a letter to FASB with a similar request.

“Many of our members within the business community and at accounting firms have expressed concern about the timing of these significant new accounting standards, so we welcome and appreciate FASB’s decision to reconsider the effective dates for many entities,” Dan Noll, CPA, the AICPA’s senior director for accounting standards–Public Accounting, said in a statement. “The AICPA will continue to work to help our members and other professionals implement these important standards.”

Ken Tysiac (Kenneth.Tysiac@aicpa-cima.com) is the JofA’s editorial director.

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