Presentation on theme: "By Bill Conner The world economy is global now, and so there is a need for global accounting rules. 40 % of the Fortune 500 use International Financial."— Presentation transcript:
By Bill Conner
The world economy is global now, and so there is a need for global accounting rules. 40 % of the Fortune 500 use International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) The European Union has required IFRS for publicly traded companies, as of 2005.
Currently, over 100 countries require IFRS. The Unites States requires Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), but is considering a switch to IFRS. The Securities and Exchange Commission arm of the U.S. Congress may require conversion to IFRS by 2014.
Investments – No AFS or HTM under IFRS Inventory – No LIFO costing so Tax Consequences with switch to IFRS Property, Plant and Equipment – Revaluing under IFRS is not limited to impairment
Differences in the following between IFRS and GAAP: Contingent Liabilities Short and Long-Term Debt Classifications Debt vs. Equity gray areas
No Completed Contract Method under IFRS IFRS is principles based, GAAP is rules based. Switch to IFRS could improve monitoring.
Inventory Assets – Under GAAP, firms choose among several ways of accounting for inventory. They may choose to remove inventory cost from the books by assuming a first-in-first-out (FIFO) flow of goods, by assuming an average cost, or even last-in-first- out. Finally, a firm could make no assumption at all and remove the actual cost of each sold item. This method is called specific identification.
Inventory Assets – IFRS allows FIFO, Average Cost, or Specific Identification. Notice that LIFO is not mentioned as an acceptable costing method. Analysis: This may be the most important change required by IFRS. The result of a political compromise by the United States Internal Revenue Service, the LIFO costing
Inventory Assets Analysis (Cont.): method has little basis in the true flow of goods through a businesss operations. If costs are rising though, the effect of using LIFO can be an indefinite tax deferral because high (inflationary) costs of sales deducted from net sales result in lower net income. With tax computed as a percentage of net income, low tax follows.
Inventory Assets Analysis (Cont.) – The catch in IRSs compromise approach is that it requires businesses to use the same flow of goods for financial statement and tax purposes. A change to IFRS could cause many U.S. firms to immediately owe millions in deferred taxes.
Inventory Assets Analysis (Cont): Both a wise and a foolish approach have been offered to deal with the back tax issue. The foolish approach involves uncoupling the financial and tax accounting methods. This is foolish because it doesnt resolve that LIFO is an illogical method of accounting for inventory. The wise approach would require a change from LIFO, but offer the adopting company a long time period, perhaps in excess of ten years, to pay the back taxes without penalty.
Investment Assets – Under current U.S. GAAP, any bonds or other debt of another company held as an investment can be accounted for uniquely, depending on whether it will be held until maturity or may be sold before maturity. If to be held – No gains or losses are reported until maturity of the investment. If to be sold – Gains/losses may be reported periodically as equity or other comprehensive income.
Investment Assets – For IFRS purposes, these bonds/debt will always be treated as if they could be sold. Therefore, gains or losses may be recognized periodically. Analysis : In effect, IFRS requires the treatment of such bonds and other debt using mark-to-market rules. The Held To Maturity category was a political compromise to bring fair value accounting to U.S. GAAP. Conversion to IFRS ends the compromise as it should. Few companies can be certain they will never sell such items.
Property Plant and Equipment – There are two differences between IFRS and GAAP. These involve Fair Value Accounting and Leases: Fair Value Accounting may be done under IFRS, whether the property, plant and equipment has appreciated or deflated in value. Under GAAP, property, plant and equipment can be written down, but not marked up.
Property, Plant, and Equipment Leases are considered operating (no ownership) or capital (the property rented is considered purchased with a loan) depending on four rigorous tests for GAAP. Under IFRS, the GAAP tests are considered indicators, but are not the only information considered.
Property, Plant and Equipment Analysis: The problem with fair value is that it can be very hard to value factories in Detroit in an economical and/or accurate way. The Lease change allows flexibility, which in the end may allow companies not to structure lease arrangements to achieve the desired financial statement effect.
Liabilities and Equity There are a number of relatively minor differences between IFRS and GAAP. Chief among them is the possibility of considering certain financial interest liabilities under IFRS while they qualify as equity under GAAP and vice-versa.
Construction Revenue Recognition Under IFRS only a variation on the Percentage of Completion method can be used, while GAAP permits the Percentage of Completion or the Completed Contract methods in certain instances. Analysis: The Completed Contract method is inconsistent with accrual basis accounting, which is the foundation of both IFRS and GAAP.
Construction Revenue Recognition Analysis: Like switching from the LIFO inventory method, a switch from the Completed Contract method could cause a tax burden. Many small US. construction contractors use the Competed Contract method for tax purposes, resulting in deferral of taxation until contract completion. This should be considered during transition to IFRS.
IFRS has been considered a principles based approach. GAAP has been considered a rules based approach. Analysis: With philosophy, principles based approaches are usually wise because slight
Analysis (Cont.): differences from the principle can usually be forgiven if the spirit of the principle is maintained. Unfortunately, law, and related positive and punitive measures, is usually forged based on compliance with rules. Compliance is rewarded and/or noncompliance is punished. While the principles approach (IFRS) is likely to produce easier agreement between different national governments, cultures, etc. it is quite
Analysis: Possible that a global switch could produce financial information that is not comparable from company to company. The inability to compare financial investments has often been cited as one contributing factor to the Great Depression.
Opportunity to Improve Monitoring of Financial Reporting by Public Companies: A public corporation today purchases its own audit from a public accounting firm. This transaction is not arms length in appearance. The public accounting firms often refer former employees for employment with the audit client, which can produce conflicts of interest.
Opportunity to Improve Monitoring (cont.) – A public accounting firm can be under enormous pressure to make accounting judgments that favor its clients rather than investors. Such pressure can include loss of a major audit client in exchange for an unfavorable ruling.
Opportunity to Improve Monitoring (cont.) – Analysis: The switch to new standards provides an opportunity to revisit the monitoring structure in the United States. The Securities and Exchange Commission or Public Companies Accounting Oversight Board could be charged with hiring the auditors of public companies. Alternatively, these government bodies could review the auditor selection process on a regular basis.
Global adherence to a single set of accounting principles is clearly worthwhile, if not necessary. IFRS has the potential to wipe away poor U.S. practices such as LIFO inventory accounting, held-to-maturity accounting for financial assets, and completed contract revenue recognition, which developed for political rather than economic reasons.
IFRS could also usher new poor practices into the U.S. method of accounting for public companies. Inflated values could be attributed to property, plant and equipment, for example. Also, an anything goes attitude may develop in the U.S. accounting profession if we replace rules with principles.
A unique opportunity for oversight could develop with a switch to IFRS. The United States could back away from the concept of privately purchased audit opinions.
There is a need for global standards. There is a responsibility for national leadership. Will the United States, the largest economy in the world: Participate in the financial reporting revolution? Ensure quality reporting by American firms?
References Bloom, Robert and William Cenker, (2009), The Death of LIFO? Journal of Accountancy, January: Dorata, Nina, and Ibrahim Badawi, (2008), International Convergence: The Case of Accounting for Business Combinations, The CPA Journal, April:
References Epstein, Barry Jay, (2009), The Economic Effects of IFRS Adoption, The CPA Journal, March: King, Alfred, (2008), GAAP vs. IFRS: Will the Real Fair Value Please Stand Up?, Financial Executive, December: 14-16
References Tribunella, Heidi, (2009), Twenty Questions on International Financial Reporting Standards, The CPA Journal, March: 32-37