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Accounting alternative for evaluating triggering events

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Midsection Of Businesswoman Working Over Graph In Office The amendments in ASU 2021-03, Accounting Alternative for Evaluating Triggering Events, allow private and not-for-profit (NFP) entities to elect not to monitor for goodwill impairment triggering events during the reporting period, and instead to perform their evaluations only as of the end of the reporting period—whether that reporting period is on an interim or annual basis—to determine whether it is more likely than not that goodwill is impaired.

How the amendments change GAAP Prior to the amendments, private and NFP entities were required to monitor and evaluate goodwill impairment triggering events throughout the year. A triggering event has occurred when an event occurs or circumstances change that indicate that the fair value of the reporting unit (or entity, for those that elected the accounting alternative for amortizing goodwill and made an accounting policy election to test goodwill at the entity level under ASC 350-20) may be less than its carrying value. If a triggering event occurred, an entity performed a goodwill impairment test using the triggering event date as the measurement date, without the use of hindsight.

After the amendments, private and NFP entities may elect to evaluate goodwill impairment triggering events only at the end of each reporting period, either on an interim or annual basis. Said differently, an entity would not evaluate goodwill impairment triggering events and measure any related impairment during the reporting period, but rather at the end of each reporting period with the use of facts and circumstances at that date.

Private and NFP entities are required to disclose their election of the accounting alternative under ASU 2021 03 as a significant accounting policy in the notes to their financial statements. An entity that has elected to amortize goodwill under the guidance in ASC 350-20 is also allowed to elect the alternative for evaluating impairment triggering events.

Further, entities that perform their annual goodwill impairment test on a date other than at the end of the reporting period may elect this alternative and will evaluate only as of the end of the reporting period any potential impairment that may have occurred between their annual testing date and the end of the reporting period.

Guidance not changing under the amendments If a private or NFP entity elects to apply the accounting alternative in ASU 2021-03, it is still required to

  • Assess other assets for impairment, such as long-lived assets and indefinite lived intangibles, under existing guidance—that is, the entity must evaluate triggering events during the reporting period, not only at the reporting date, and test for impairment using the triggering event date as the measurement date.
  • Upon disposal of a portion of a reporting unit, assess any portion of goodwill retained for impairment as of the disposal date if goodwill is allocated based on the relative fair value between the portions of a reporting unit disposed of and retained.

The amendments do not change the existing guidance on impairment for public entities.

Example Entity A adopts the accounting alternative in ASU 2021-03 for evaluating goodwill impairment triggering events in March 2021 and has not yet filed its annual financial statements for the year ended Dec. 31, 2020. Entity A only reports on an annual basis. During the second quarter of 2020, Entity A’s main supplier went out of business, which, absent the adoption of the accounting alternative, would have represented an impairment triggering event in the second quarter. By the fourth quarter, Entity A was able to secure a new supplier with similar terms to the arrangement it had in place with its previous supplier, and cash flows were back in line with its previous forecasts.

Entity A evaluates the facts and circumstances existing as of Dec. 31, 2020 (its annual goodwill impairment triggering event evaluation date under the accounting alternative) and concludes that no triggering event exists as of that date.

Entity A discloses its election to use the accounting alternative as a significant accounting policy in the notes to the financial statements.

Effective date The amendments are effective on a prospective basis for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2019. Early adoption is allowed for both interim and annual financial statements that have not been issued or made available for issuance as of March 30, 2021.

Entities should not retroactively adopt the amendments for interim financial statements already issued in the year of adoption.

The amendments also allow for a one-time option to adopt the alternative prospectively after the effective date without assessing preferablity under ASC 250, Accounting Changes and Error Corrections.

Contacts:

Graham DyerGraham Dyer
Partner
Accounting Principles Group
T +1 312 602 8107

Sandy HeuerSandy Heuer
Partner
Accounting Principles Group
T +1 612 677 5122


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