International Financial Reporting Standards
How should NeedsSpace account for the two obligations noted as provisions in the lease agreement? ? Provision 1: “Lessor may require the lessee to perform general repairs and maintenance on the leased premises. ” By entering the lease agreement, NeedsSpace (the lessee) becomes legally and contractually responsible for performing general repair and maintenance on the leased premises.
Assuming that the lessee is required to make deposits to financially protect the lessor concerning the maintenance obligation by setting up a reserve, the guidance in ASC 840-10-05-9A through 840-10-05-9C states that the maintenance reserve shall be recognized as a deposit asset and reimbursed later when the required repair and maintenance is completed by the lessee. However, the provision in the lease agreement does not call upon the lessee to make deposits but simply requires the lessee to perform repair and maintenance on the leased premises.
Alternative 1: Accrual Method Since there is a contractual liability for the lessee to perform general repair and maintenance, the maintenance requirement provision may be assumed as a present economic obligation, not just a future commitment. If the fair value estimate of future maintenance expense can be measured with sufficient reliability, the provision may lead to recognition of an accrued liability for the repair and maintenance performance obligation at the inception of the lease.
The accrued liability for the repair and maintenance can be reversed when payment is made or liability is created through the performance of the required repair and maintenance. Alternative 2: Direct expense method Another way to treat this provision would be not to recognize at the inception of the lease but directly expense the costs when the required maintenance is performed. Regarding the accrual method in Alternative 1, ASC 360-15-25-5 prescribes that “the use of accrue-in-advance (accrual) method of accounting for planned maintenance activities is prohibited in annual and interim financial reporting periods.
This is consistent to FASB’s opinion shown in FSP AUG Air-1, which concludes that planned maintenance activities does not meet the definition of liability, and accrual method should not be used to account for those maintenance activities. FASB’s reasoning implies that accrual is not allowed as long as the definition of liability is met, even though the demand of maintenance is highly expected from the past experiences and the maintenance is planned accordingly.
Although the AUG Air-1 allows the use of capitalization method and direct expensing method in the Airline industry practices, the maintenance requirement provision in the lease agreement above would be qualified for direct expensing treatment only, since “general” repair and maintenance would be expected to maintain the usability of the leased premises but not to increase their useful lives nor to provide other future benefits. Unless there is positive future benefit involved, repair and maintenance expense shall not be capitalized.
Recommendation The appropriate accounting treatment of the provision depends on whether it meets the definition of a liability. The maintenance requirement provision in the lease agreement simply asks for the performance of general repair and maintenance by the lessee. However, it still is uncertain whether the situation demands repair and maintenance would actually occur; and how much costs would be incurred. Based on these facts and circumstances, it seems that the provision does not meet the definition of a liability.
According to the most recent Project Update of Conceptual Framework – Elements and Recognition (Phase B), a liability should be an “unconditional” economic obligation, but the repair and maintenance requirement by the provision may not be “unconditional” in that the required maintenance would be performed only when it’s needed. Consequently, Alternative 2 is recommended, and the required repair and maintenance costs shall be expensed when actually incurred. Comparison to IFRS In IFRS, the maintenance requirement provision in the lease agreement may be considered as a contingent liability.
In IAS 37, a contingent liability is defined as “a present obligation that arises from past events but is not recognized because (i) it is not probable that an outflow of resources embodying economic benefits will be required to settle the obligation; or (2) the amount of the obligation cannot be measured with sufficient reliability. ” Since the provision simply clarifies who is responsible for the repair and maintenance and not specifies the amount paid for the maintenance, the present obligation from the provision would not be recognized.
A contingent liability under IFRS shall not be recognized but disclosed in the financial statements with a brief description of the nature, an estimate of financial effect, and an indication of the uncertainties involved. , and the possibility of an of contingent liability. ? Provision 2: “Lessor may require the lessee to remove all leasehold improvements such that the premise is reinstated to original condition. According to ASC 840-10-35-6, leasehold improvements in operating lease are capitalized and amortized over the shorter of (1) the useful life of the assets and (2) lease term, considering required lease periods and renewals. In the lease agreement above, no renewal option is provided; and the lease term of 10 years happens to be the same to the economic useful lives of the leasehold improvements. Therefore, the lessee’s expenditure for leasehold improvements should be capitalized and amortized over 10 years.
Arguably, the fastest way to expense the costs related to this restoration requirement would be to treat the provision as a probable loss contingency situation with reasonably estimable loss amount. However, the lessee has neither the option to renew the lease nor the ability to negotiate for renewal. It means the loss from the removal of the leasehold improvements will certainly occur when the lease term expires in 10 years. In this vein, the restoration provision in the lease agreement may not be considered as a “contingency” situation.
Although the amount of the obligation is less than certain, the amount is just an estimate, not a loss contingency with uncertainty regarding the realization of the loss itself per ASC 450-10-05-6. Accordingly, contingency treatment is ruled out in this case. Alternative 1: Asset retirement obligation method The lessee may consider that, due to the leasehold improvements removal provision in the lease agreement, a contractual obligation is created to restore the leased premise’s original condition when its lease term expires.
Per ASC 410-25-25-4, this asset retirement obligation (ARO) should be recorded as a liability at its fair value when it is incurred and reasonably estimable. ASC 410-20-15-3(e) also prescribes that if conditional obligations of a lessee exist to perform a retirement activity in connection with leased property, the lessee shall account for the obligation as ARO unless it meet the definition of “either minimum lease payments or contingent rentals in paragraphs 840-10-25-4 through 25-7.
Since the provision requires the performance of – not the payment for – restoration to the original condition, it may not be included in the minimum lease payments. Consequently, the restoration requirement provision in the agreement may be accounted as ARO by the lessee. If the provision is considered as ARO, the fair value of a liability for ARO shall be recognized by increasing the carrying amount of the capitalized leasehold improvements per ASC 410-20-25-5.
When the carrying amount of ARO changes after initial measurement or the related expense is made, they should be shown as an operating expense in the income statements per ASC 410-20-45-1. In addition, ASC 410-20-50 asks the lessee to make the following disclosures: * General description of ARO related to the leasehold improvements * Reconciliation of carrying amounts whenever there is a significant change in the components of (1) liability incurred, (2) liability settled, (3) accretion expense, and (4) revision in estimated cash flow.
Alternative 2: Direct expense method Instead of recognizing as a liability, the lessee may consider the restoration cost as an expense to finish up the lease contract. If the lessee is allowed to pay the costs for removing its leasehold improvements to the lessor at the end of the lease term, the payment may be considered as executory costs, which happen to be incurred at the end of the operating lease. Executory costs, as indirectly defined in ASC 840-10-25-5, include costs such as insurance and maintenance expenses; and are normally recognized when incurred.
Similarly, the costs to remove the leasehold improvements may be expensed when incurred at the end of the lease term. Recommendation Between the two alternative accounting treatment options above, ARO approach in Alternative 1 is recommended. Restoration requirement in the provision meets all the recognition criteria in SFAC No. 5 in that the provision in the lease agreement does create a legal obligation and a reliable measurement of the liability is attainable.
Although the costs to be paid in the future related to the restoration would not be a fixed amount, it does not prevent per ASC 410-20-55-14 to determine the reasonable estimate of fair value for ARO. Therefore, the lessee shall recognize the ARO at the inception of the lease and amortize the restoration costs over the lease term. Comparison to IFRS In IFRS, the obligation to remove the leasehold improvements is referred as “decommissioning, restoration and similar liabilities” in IFRIC Interpretation 1.
Similar to the way ARO increases the carrying amount of the related leasehold improvements, Subparagraph 16(c) of IAS 16 requires that initial estimate of restoration cost is included in the cost of the property, plant, and equipment item (assuming that the property is not used in the process of producing inventory). Consistent to the use of fair value in ARO to reflect the uncertainties in timing and amount of the liability, IAS 37 requires that the present value (if time value of money effect is material) of “the best estimate” is used to measure the restoration provision. Also, the carrying amount of the provision, including its reconciliation between beginning and ending balance, should be disclosed.