FASB Revises Going Concern Evaluations and Disclosure

Generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP, presumes continuation of a reporting entity as a going concern as the basis for preparing financial statements unless and until the entity’s liquidation becomes imminent. This presumption is commonly referred to as the going concern basis of accounting. If and when an entity’s liquidation becomes imminent, financial statements should be prepared under the liquidation basis of accounting.

Even if an entity’s liquidation is not imminent, there may be conditions or events that raise substantial doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern. In those situations, financial statements should continue to be prepared under the going concern basis of accounting, but disclosures should be made.

While the topic is addressed by auditing standards, currently, there is no guidance in GAAP about management’s responsibility to evaluate whether there is substantial doubt about an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern or to provide related footnote disclosures. The Financial Accounting Standards Board, or FASB, believes that the lack of guidance in GAAP and the differing views about when there is substantial doubt about an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern, there is diversity in whether, when, and how an entity discloses the relevant conditions and events in its footnotes. As a result, FASB has issued guidance in this area.

Evaluation Under the New Guidance

The new guidance provides that in connection with preparing financial statements for each annual and interim reporting period, an entity’s management should evaluate whether there are conditions or events, considered in the aggregate, that raise substantial doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern within one year after the date that the financial statements are issued (or within one year after the date that the financial statements are available to be issued when applicable).

Under the guidance, management’s evaluation should be based on relevant conditions and events that are known and reasonably knowable at the date that the financial statements are issued (or at the date that the financial statements are available to be issued when applicable). Substantial doubt about an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern exists when relevant conditions and events, considered in the aggregate, indicate that it is probable that the entity will be unable to meet its obligations as they become due within one year after the date that the financial statements are issued (or available to be issued).

Mitigating Circumstances Under the New Guidance

When management identifies conditions or events that raise substantial doubt about an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern, management should consider whether its plans that are intended to mitigate those relevant conditions or events will alleviate the substantial doubt. The mitigating effect of management’s plans should be considered only to the extent that

  • it is probable that the plans will be effectively implemented and, if so,
  • it is probable that the plans will mitigate the conditions or events that raise substantial doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern.

Disclosures Under the New Guidance

If conditions or events raise substantial doubt about an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern, but the substantial doubt is alleviated as a result of consideration of management’s plans, the entity should disclose information that enables users of the financial statements to understand all of the following (or refer to similar information disclosed elsewhere in the footnotes):

  • Principal conditions or events that raised substantial doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern (before consideration of management’s plans)
  • Management’s evaluation of the significance of those conditions or events in relation to the entity’s ability to meet its obligations
  • Management’s plans that alleviated substantial doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern.

If conditions or events raise substantial doubt about an entity’s ability to continue as a going concern, and substantial doubt is not alleviated after consideration of management’s plans, an entity should include a statement in the footnotes indicating that there is substantial doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern within one year after the date that the financial statements are issued (or available to be issued). Additionally, the entity should disclose information that enables users of the financial statements to understand all of the following:

  • Principal conditions or events that raise substantial doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern
  • Management’s evaluation of the significance of those conditions or events in relation to the entity’s ability to meet its obligations
  • Management’s plans that are intended to mitigate the conditions or events that raise substantial doubt about the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern.

Topics:  FASB, Financial Accounting, Financial Statements, GAAP, Liquidation

Published In: General Business Updates, Finance & Banking Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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