FASB clarifies aspects of lease accounting standard

The Financial Accounting Standards Board issued an accounting standards update Tuesday clarifying some of the disclosure and implementation requirements of the new leasing standard.

The new leases standard will put operating leases on the balance sheet of many companies for the first time. The standard takes effect for public companies this year and for private companies next year.

The update deals with two lessor implementation issues. It clarifies that lessees and lessors are exempt from a certain interim disclosure requirement associated with adopting the new leases standard. It also aligns the guidance for fair value of the underlying asset by lessors that are not manufacturers or dealers with some of FASB’s existing guidance. That means the fair value of the underlying asset at the commencement of a lease is its cost, reflecting any volume or trade discounts that may apply. But if there has been a significant lapse of time between when the underlying asset is acquired and when the lease commences, the definition of fair value (in Topic 820, Fair Value Measurement) should be applied.

The update also requires lessors within the scope of Topic 942, Financial Services—Depository and Lending, to present all “principal payments received under leases” within investing activities. Finally, the accounting standards update exempts both lessees and lessors from having to provide certain interim disclosures in the fiscal year in which a company adopts the new leases standard.

“The new ASU clarifies areas identified by our stakeholders as they prepared to implement the leases standard,” said FASB chairman Russell G. Golden in a statement. “The changes will help ensure a smoother transition to the standard without affecting the quality of information provided to investors and other financial statement users.”

FASB chairman Russell Golden
FASB Chairman Russell Golden

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