Following is a summary of a comment letter submitted on lease acconting, as previously published in the Journal of Accountancy.
The AICPA’s Financial Reporting Executive Committee (FinREC) commented on FASB’s Proposed Accounting Standards Update, Leases. The exposure draft was developed jointly with the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). FinREC said it supports the boards’ overall objective to develop a single approach to lease accounting and to require assets and liabilities arising under leases to be recognized in lessees’ statements of financial position. However, FinREC believes there are fundamental application issues not addressed by the ED, and revisions that need to be made to various aspects of the boards’ proposal, including those related to the right-of-use approach to lessee accounting.
The FASB proposal would result in a single “right-of-use” approach applied consistently to lease accounting for lessees and lessors. Among other changes, the approach would result in the liability for payments under all lease contracts within the scope of the standard and the right to use the underlying asset being included on the lessee’s balance sheet. The standard setters say the changes would improve the information available to investors and other financial statement users about the economics surrounding lease contracts.
Unlike FASB’s discussion paper, Leases: Preliminary Views, published in March 2009, which focused primarily on lessee accounting, the ED, Leases, would result in changes on both sides of a lease transaction. A lessor would apply either a performance obligation approach or a derecognition approach. “The majority of FinREC members do not support the boards’ hybrid (lease classification) approach to lessor accounting—instead they support the derecognition approach as the single lessor accounting model,” FinREC said in its comment letter.
The proposal includes simplified accounting for short-term leases—leases having a maximum term of 12 months or less. The simplified accounting would allow lessees to ignore the effects of interest on the recorded assets and liabilities and allow the lessee to record the liability for lease payments at the undiscounted amount for lease payments. The simplified accounting would allow the lessor not to recognize assets or liabilities arising from a short-term lease, nor derecognize any portion of the underlying asset.
In its comment letter, FinREC said, “We do not support the boards’ approach to accounting for lease renewal options and contingent rents. We believe that the lease term should be defined as the lessee’s (lessor’s) best estimate of the lease term. We believe contingent rents and expected payments under residual value guarantees should be included in the measurement of assets and liabilities based on management’s best estimate of payments to be made (received) under the lease.”