Long-Term Asset Impairment

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In March of 1995 the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued Statement No. 121 "Accounting for the Impairment of Long-Lived Assets and for Long-Lived Assets to Be Disposed Of". The statement established accounting standards for the impairment of long-lived assets, certain identifiable intangibles, and goodwill related to those assets to be held and used. The statement also established accounting standards for the disposal of long-lived assets and certain identifiable intangibles. (fasb.org/stsum121) However, shortly after Statement 121 was released numerous implementation issues were identified. Statement 121 also created measurement and presentation differences in the accounting for long-lived assets to be disposed of within the scope of Statement 121, and those under APB Opinion No. 30, "Reporting the Results of Operations-Reporting the Effects of Disposal of a Segment of a Business". (BDO Seidman) Statement 121 did not address the accounting for a segment of a business accounted for as a discontinued operation under Opinion 30, therefore businesses accounted for the disposal or expected disposal of long-lived assets that were a segment of a business using one set of rules and the disposal of long-lived assets that were not a segment of a business using another standard. (Meeting and Luecke) In order to resolve these problems the Board issued Statement 144 entitled "Accounting for the Impairment or Disposal of Long-Lived Assets" in late September 2001, effective for fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2001. The board felt that the issuance of Statement 144 provided a single accounting model for long-lived assets to be disposed of by sale that would eliminate the differences in accounting for those transactions and resolve the implementation and practice problems, associated with impairment, that were identified. Throughout the course of this paper the differences between Statement 144 and 121 will be identified, specifically when it comes to impairment evaluation, as well as the benefits of these changes from a preparer and user point of view. Although Statement 144 supersedes Statement 121; 144 still retains the requirement of Statement 121 to recognize an impairment loss only if the carrying amount of a long-lived asset is not recoverable from its undiscounted cash flows, as well as the requirement to measure an impairment loss as the difference between the carrying amount and the fair value of the asset. (fasb.org/stsum144) Under Statement 144, the carrying amount of an asset is not considered recoverable if its carrying amount exceeds the sum of the undiscounted cash flows expected to result from its use and ultimate disposal. (BDO Seidman) The assets that Statement 144 applies to are the recognized long-lived assets of all companies, including not-for-profit organizations that are held or are to be disposed of. Statement 144 does not apply to goodwill, indefinite intangible assets, long-term customer relationships of a financial institution, financial instruments, deferred policy acquisition costs, or deferred tax assets. Statement 144 supersedes APB Opinion 30 also, but maintains Opinion 30's requirement to report discontinued operations separately from continuing operations and extends that reporting to a component of a company that has either been disposed of or is classified as held for sale. (BDO Seidman) Statement 144 significantly changed the requirements of reporting discontinued operations required by Opinion 30. The changes hinge on the new concept of a "component of an entity" and expand what a company can consider as a discontinued operation, as well as how a company measures the reported results. A component of an entity comprises operations and cash flows that can be clearly distinguished, operationally and for financial reporting purposes, from the rest of the company. Thus it could be a reportable segment or an operating segment, a reporting unit, a subsidiary, or an asset group. (Meeting...
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