The Financial Accounting Standards Board has issued an accounting standards update on simplifying the presentation of debt issuance costs.

The standards update is part of FASB’s simplification initiative for eliminating some of the complexity from accounting standards, while maintaining or improving the usefulness of the information provided to users of financial statements.

FASB said it received feedback that having different balance sheet presentation requirements for debt issuance costs and debt discount and premium creates unnecessary complexity.

“Recognizing debt issuance costs as a deferred charge (that is, an asset) also is different from the guidance in International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which requires that transaction costs be deducted from the carrying value of the financial liability and not recorded as separate assets,” said FASB. “Additionally, the requirement to recognize debt issuance costs as deferred charges conflicts with the guidance in FASB Concepts Statement No. 6, Elements of Financial Statements, which states that debt issuance costs are similar to debt discounts and in effect reduce the proceeds of borrowing, thereby increasing the effective interest rate. Concepts Statement 6 further states that debt issuance costs cannot be an asset because they provide no future economic benefit.”

To simplify the presentation of debt issuance costs, the amendments in FASB’s accounting standards update now require that debt issuance costs related to a recognized debt liability be presented in the balance sheet as a direct deduction from the carrying amount of that debt liability, consistent with debt discounts. The recognition and measurement guidance for debt issuance costs are not affected by the amendments in the update, FASB noted.

For public companies, the changes are effective for financial statements issued for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2015, and interim periods within those fiscal years. For all other entities, the amendments are effective for financial statements issued for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2015, and interim periods within fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2016. Early adoption is permitted for financial statements that have not been previously issued.

FASB cautioned that an entity should apply the new guidance on a retrospective basis, wherein the balance sheet of each individual period presented should be adjusted to reflect the period-specific effects of applying the new guidance. Upon transition, an entity will be required to comply with the applicable disclosures for a change in an accounting principle. The disclosures include the nature of and reason for the change in accounting principle, the transition method, a description of the prior-period information that has been retrospectively adjusted, and the effect of the change on the financial statement line items (that is, debt issuance cost asset and the debt liability).

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