GASB issues enhanced concepts for notes to financial statements

By Kevin Brewer

GASB issued a concepts statement to guide the board when establishing note disclosure requirements for state and local governments — part of its response to research reexamining existing note disclosure requirements.

The concepts in the document are primarily intended to provide GASB with criteria to consistently evaluate future requirements for notes to financial statements in the standard-setting process. They also may help stakeholders to understand the fundamental concepts underlying note disclosure requirements in future GASB pronouncements, according to a news release.

Concepts Statement No. 7, Communication Methods in General Purpose External Financial Reports That Contain Basic Financial Statements: Notes to Financial Statements, details concepts that include:

  • The purpose of notes to financial statements;
  • The intended users of note disclosures;
  • The types of information that should be disclosed in notes;
  • The types of information that are not appropriate for note disclosures; and
  • The degree of importance that information disclosed in notes to financial statements should possess.

A key element of the concepts statement is the concept of essentiality, GASB said. The document establishes that notes to financial statements are essential to making economic, social, or political decisions or assessing accountability. The concepts statement also identifies the characteristics of essential information:

  • The information has or is expected to have a meaningful effect on users' analyses for making decisions or assessing accountability.
  • A breadth or depth of users utilize or are expected to utilize the information in their analyses for making decisions or assessing accountability.

The concepts included in Concepts Statement 7 establish that information disclosed in notes to financial statements should correspond to the reporting units presented in the financial statements.

GASB issued an exposure draft on this topic in early 2020 and revised that draft in July 2021 to incorporate feedback from stakeholders on the previous draft and to seek feedback on the resulting proposed revisions.

— To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Kevin Brewer at Kevin.Brewer@aicpa-cima.com.

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