Revenue recognition

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2 minutes on the IASB and FASB revenue recognition project: Nearing completion

After long deliberations (more than a decade), the IASB and FASB issued their joint project ‘Revenue from contracts with customers' that proposes a single, comprehensive revenue recognition model for all contracts with customers and for all industries.

The standard could significantly change how many entities recognize revenue, especially those that currently apply industry-specific guidance. The standard will also result in a significant increase in the volume of disclosures related to revenue.

All entities will likely have to consider changes to information technology systems, processes, and internal controls as a result of the increased disclosure requirements, among other aspects of the model. Management will need to perform a comprehensive review of existing contracts, business models, company practices, accounting policies, information technology systems, and internal processes and controls to assess the extent of changes needed as a result of the new standard. This may be the case even if the entity’s revenue recognition model has not significantly changed.

The following areas of the guidance, among others, could result in significant changes from current practice and an increase in the use of estimates:

  • separate accounting for each element of bundled goods and services and determining a stand-alone selling price;
  • licensing and rights to use and whether they are transferred over time or at a point in time;
  • accounting for contract related costs many of which are expected to be capitalized in certain situations
  • accounting for variable consideration for which an estimate will be included in the transaction price if such amounts are not expected to be subject to significant risk of reversal,
  • accounting for contract options; and
  • reflecting time value of money.

The standard will be effective for IFRS reporters for the first interim period within annual reporting periods beginning on or after January 1, 2017, and will allow early adoption. The new standard will be effective for US GAAP reporters for the first interim period within annual reporting periods beginning after December 15, 2016 for public entities with no early adoption permitted.

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