The Financial Accounting Standards Board issued an accounting standards update Tuesday to improve financial reporting for development-stage entities, eliminating the inception-to-date information and differences in consolidation guidance.
The new guidance aims to reduce the overall cost and complexity associated with financial reporting for development-stage entities, such as startup companies, without reducing the availability of the relevant information for investors.
A development-stage entity is one that devotes substantially all of its efforts to establishing a new business and for which the planned principal operations have not commenced or the planned principal operations have begun, but as yet have produced no significant revenue. For example, many startups or even long-established organizations that have not yet begun their principal operations or do not have significant revenue would be identified as development-stage entities.
Up to now, U.S. GAAP has required a development-stage entity to present the same basic financial statements and apply the same recognition and measurement rules as established companies. In addition, GAAP requires a development-stage entity to present inception-to-date information about income statement line items, cash flows, and equity transactions.
Accounting Standards Update No. 2014-10, Development Stage Entities (Topic 915): Elimination of Certain Financial Reporting Requirements, Including an Amendment to Variable Interest Entities Guidance in Topic 810, Consolidation removes all incremental financial reporting requirements from GAAP for development-stage entities, including the removal of Topic 915 from the FASB Accounting Standards Codification. In addition, the update adds an example disclosure in Risks and Uncertainties (Topic 275) to illustrate one way that an entity that has not begun planned principal operations could provide information about the risks and uncertainties related to the company’s current activities.
The accounting standards update also removes an exception provided to development stage entities in Consolidations (Topic 810) for determining whether an entity is a variable interest entity—which may change the consolidation analysis, consolidation decision, and disclosure requirements for a company that has an interest in a company in the development stage.
“Stakeholders have expressed concerns about the cost and limited relevance of the additional presentation and disclosure requirements specific to development stage entities,” said FASB chairman Russell G. Golden in a statement. “The Accounting Standards Update simplifies the accounting guidance, and provides more opportunities for cost savings for preparers. The update should also help foster more consistent consolidation analyses and decisions among public and private development-stage entities, thereby improving the relevance of information provided to users of financial statements.”
For organizations defined as public business entities, for the first annual period beginning after Dec. 15, 2014, the presentation and disclosure requirements in Topic 915 will no longer be required. The revised consolidation standards are effective one year later, in annual periods beginning after Dec. 15, 2015. Early adoption is permitted.
For other organizations, for the first annual period beginning after Dec. 15, 2014, the presentation and disclosure requirements in Topic 915 will no longer be required. The revised consolidation standards are effective two years later, in annual periods beginning after Dec. 15, 2016. Early adoption is permitted.