The new lease accounting methods have been an important topic for businesses over the last few years. Determining if an enforceable lease exists is an integral part of Topic 842 that affects how and what gets reported under these lease accounting methods. Compliance for certain leases is being simplified for organizations that fall under common control arrangements, such as parent organizations and subsidiaries. The Financial Accounting Standards Board voted to enact the following changes when the update to Topic 842 is released.
Common control for nonprofits and private entities
The FASB has voted to adopt the proposed November update as written for nonprofit organizations and private entities under common control. This update would simplify the compliance approach for these organizations by allowing them to use written terms and conditions to help determine if an enforceable lease arrangement is in place. This workaround is expected to be welcomed by smaller organizations, as the complex analysis for lease agreements can be costly and take time.
The FASB allows this method under their ‘practical expedient’ policy. However, please note practical expedience cannot be used in the absence of written terms and conditions.
Improvements while under lease
For properties under a common control lease, changes to the current standards are being made to account for improvements made to the property. Under the new rule, the cost of improvements should amortize over the ‘useful life’ of the improvements. This should be scheduled out regardless of lease terms if the common control lease group uses the property throughout the lease. Previously, improvements could only be amortized over the terms of the lease. This change applies to public, private, and nonprofit organizations.
Moving forward, you may need to change how your organization handles leases in common control groups. Do not act on these changes until the FASB formally releases the update, which is expected by the end of March 2023.
Lease accounting standards can be complex and confusing. For guidance on setting up your firm’s lease accounting system or auditing the current system in place, please get in touch with our knowledgeable team members today.
Note: Since originally publishing this article, the FASB released ASU No 2023-01 to Topic 842, Leases on March 27, 2023. Applicable businesses can adopt the changes mentioned above in their lease accounting procedures for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2023.