GASB proposes guidance for CARES Act and coronavirus

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The Governmental Accounting Standards Board released a proposed technical bulletin Thursday from its staff with application guidance on the CARES Act and outflows incurred by state and local governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bulletin comes in response to questions raised with GASB by its constituents. State and local governments around the country have been spending tremendous sums to deal with the fallout from the novel coronavirus and experiencing budget shortfalls.

The CARES Act provided only $150 billion in funds within the $2.2 trillion CARES Act to help states and localities deal with the pandemic, but that fell far short of the need. House Democrats passed the $3 trillion HEROES Act last month, which included $1 trillion to aid state and local governments, but President Trump and Senate Republicans quickly rejected the wide-ranging package.

The exposure draft of the proposed technical bulletin, "Accounting and Financial Reporting Issues Related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) of 2020 and Coronavirus Diseases," clarifies the application of existing recognition requirements to resources received from certain programs established by the CARES Act. It also clarifies how the existing presentation requirements would apply to certain inflows of CARES Act resources and to the unplanned and additional outflows of resources incurred in response to the pandemic. The document addresses questions such as "Should outflows of resources incurred in response to the coronavirus disease due to, for example, actions taken to slow the spread of the virus, adjustments in the provision of services, or the implementation of 'stay-at-home' orders, be reported as extraordinary items or special items?"

GASB said it is working to issue the guidance as quickly as practicable. The exposure draft is available on GASB’s website, and the board is asking for comments to be sent by June 25. GASB is scheduled to review stakeholder feedback and consider clearing a final technical bulletin at the end of June.

Other COVID-19-related resources from GASB, including an "emergency toolbox," are available at

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GASB Government accounting Accounting standards Coronavirus CARES Act