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Beyond the GAAP no.117 - December 2017
2017 ended fairly quietly, since the European Commission had already endorsed several texts in November and the IASB’s December meeting decided to postpone publication of most of its texts and draft texts, with the exception of the annual improvements to IFRSs, which we discuss in this month’s ‘A closer look’ study. This being the case, the implementation of IFRS 9 and IFRS 15 in January 2018 will be more than enough to keep entities and their auditors busy, on top of the preparation of the 2017 financial statements.
Over the past decade, the IASB has been working on the process of converging IFRS with US GAAP, and this month saw EU endorsement of the remaining resulting standards. With implementation now set to go ahead, this marks the end of a chapter. The one remaining major standard awaiting endorsement – namely IFRS 17 - Insurance Contracts – was not a joint project with the FASB, and moreover is not scheduled for endorsement until the end of next year.
July was a busier period for Europe than for the IASB. The European Commission sent two draft texts (deferred application of IFRS 9 for insurers and financial conglomerates, and IFRS 16 on Leases) to the European Parliament and Council for endorsement before the end of the year, while ESMA published three documents on financial information and its enforcement activities.
The IASB has put some last-minute finishing touches to IFRS 9, with an amendment on debt instruments with symmetric prepayment options and with the inclusion (in the Basis for Conclusions) of its analysis of the standard’s provisions on the modification of financial liabilities. All that remains is for the European Union to accelerate the endorsement of the amendment so that European entities do not have to switch accounting policies between 2018 and 2019!
June 2017 saw the publication of IFRIC 23 – Uncertainty over Income Tax Treatments. According to this Interpretation, entities must now assume that any uncertainty over income tax treatments will be examined by the taxation authorities, and must consider the probable outcome of such examination when determining the amount of income tax to be recognised in the financial statements.
IFRS 17 – Insurance Contracts has been in the pipeline for more than ten years, and finally made its appearance during the night of 16 to 17 May 2017. On 17 May, the IASB hosted two interactive webinars on the standard, and launched a dedicated webpage to support implementation. IFRS 17 will replace the interim standard IFRS 4 from 2021, meaning insurers will no longer be able to use local accounting frameworks for insurance contracts. The new standard is therefore likely to cause substantial upheaval, with impacts varying significantly from one company to another.
For the second time in its history, the IASB has launched a rapid-turnaround consultation with a comment period of just 30 days – the minimum permitted by its Due Process Handbook. What is more, it once again relates to financial instruments. The IASB is rushing it through in the hope that the document will be ready for first-time application alongside IFRS 9 in 2018. It is touch and go, as the basic principle needs to be approved by stakeholders and the amendments then need to go through the EU adoption process!
While they do not form an official part of the IASB’s Disclosure Initiative, the amendments proposed to IFRS 8 on operating segments are certainly in the same spirit. With this consultation, and the consultation around the discussion paper on Principles of Disclosure, the IASB has started the ball rolling for the 2017 round of deliberations on the theme of Better Communication. In Europe, the recently published standard on leases has just completed the first stage of the adoption process, EFRAG having just issued a recommendation for rapid endorsement to the European Commission.