FASB Releases Lease Accounting Standard

Published on April 05, 2016

The Financial Accounting Standards Board issued its long-awaited Lease Accounting Standard, one of the major convergence projects on which it has collaborated for a decade with the International Accounting Standards Board.

The accounting standards update aims to improve financial reporting about leasing transactions and will affect all companies and other organizations that lease assets such as real estate, airplanes, and manufacturing equipment, in many cases putting their operating leases on the balance sheet for the first time.

The update will require organizations that lease assets—referred to as “lessees”—to recognize on the balance sheet the assets and liabilities for the rights and obligations created by those leases.

Under the new guidance, a lessee will be required to recognize assets and liabilities for leases with lease terms of more than 12 months. Consistent with current U.S. GAAP, the recognition, measurement, and presentation of expenses and cash flows arising from a lease by a lessee primarily will depend on its classification as a finance or operating lease. However, unlike current GAAP—which requires only capital leases to be recognized on the balance sheet— the new ASU will require both types of leases to be recognized on the balance sheet.

The ASU also will require disclosures to help investors and other financial statement users better understand the amount, timing, and uncertainty of cash flows arising from leases. These disclosures include qualitative and quantitative requirements, providing additional information about the amounts recorded in the financial statements. 

The accounting by organizations that own the assets leased by the lessee—also known as lessor accounting—will remain largely unchanged from current GAAP. However, the ASU contains some targeted improvements that are intended to align, where necessary, lessor accounting with the lessee accounting model and with the updated revenue recognition guidance issued in 2014. 

A wide variety of companies will be affected by the new leasing standard. 

The accounting standards update on leases will take effect for public companies for fiscal years, and interim periods within those fiscal years, beginning after Dec. 15, 2018. For all other organizations, the ASU on leases will take effect for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2019, and for interim periods within fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2020. Early application will be permitted for all organizations.

(Source: AccountingToday - Breaking News - February 25, 2016)