On 17 August 2010 the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) published for public comment joint proposals to improve the financial reporting of lease contracts. The proposals are one of the main projects included in the boards’ Memorandum of Understanding. The proposals, if adopted, will greatly improve the financial reporting information available to investors about the financial effects of lease contracts.

The accounting under existing requirements depends on the classification of a lease. Classification as an operating lease results in the lessee not recording any assets or liabilities in the statement of financial position (balance sheet) under either International Financial Reporting Standards or US standards (generally accepted accounting principles). This results in many investors having to adjust the financial statements (using disclosures and other available information) to estimate the effects of lessees’ operating leases for the purpose of investment analysis.

The proposals would result in a consistent approach to lease accounting for both lessees and lessors—a ‘right-of-use’ approach. Among other changes, this approach would result in the liability for payments arising under the lease contract and the right to use the underlying asset being included in the lessee’s statement of financial position, thus providing more complete and useful information to investors and other users of financial statements.

The boards developed the proposals after considering responses to their discussion paper, Leases: Preliminary Views, published in March 2009. In developing the proposals, the boards also considered extensive input from constituents, including more than 300 comment letters. During the exposure draft’s comment period the boards will undertake further outreach activities, including public round-table meetings, to ensure that the views of all interested parties are taken into consideration before the new standard is completed.

The Exposure Draft was open for comment until 15 December 2010.


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