FASB clarifies accounting for grants and contributions

FASB clarifies accounting for grants and contributions

FASB issued an Accounting Standards Update (ASU) clarifying when a transfer of cash or other assets received and made, primarily by notforprofits, qualifies as a contribution or an exchange transaction.

The ASU, which amends FASB ASC Topic 958, Not-for-Profit Entities, updates current guidance about whether a transfer of assets — or the reduction, settlement, or cancellation of liabilities — should be accounted for as a contribution or an exchange transaction. Specifically, the ASU establishes criteria for determining whether the asset provider is receiving commensurate value in return for those assets. That determination then dictates whether the organization follows contribution guidance or exchange transaction guidance found in the revenue recognition and other applicable standards.

The new guidance is expected to be particularly helpful in the accounting for grants and similar contracts awarded by governments to notforprofits. FASB proposed the changes last year after receiving feedback that notforprofits had run into difficulty deciding whether to characterize grants as exchanges or contributions.

The ASU also provides an enhanced framework for determining whether a contribution is conditional or unconditional, and for distinguishing a donorimposed condition from a donorimposed restriction.

The new standard does not apply to transfers of assets from governments to businesses. The update includes extensive instructions on effective dates, which range from June 15, 2018, to Dec. 15, 2019.

In addition, FASB:

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