As we kick off 2019, everyone posts predictions for the coming year and I enjoy reading those as much as the next person. With the new lease standard, it seems that predictions are more along the lines of, “the sky is falling!” There are only so many times we can hear that we’re in dire straits, so I thought I’d shake it up a bit.
Understanding the reality and the timeline of the new lease standard, what do I want to happen in 2019? Read on for my wishlist.
Important note: This is a judgment-based standard, which means there are few hard-and-fast rules and the treatment of your leases will depend on your unique situation. It's important that you always double-check decisions with an accounting professional who knows your circumstances. This blog should not be considered or take the place of professional advice or services.
We’re excited this month to share insights from our recent conversation with industry expert John Hepp. John is a retired partner from Grant Thornton and a former FASB project manager. He holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently on the faculty at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
John discussed several nuances of the new lease accounting standard, from practical expedients (“the spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down”) to discount rates and much more.
On July 30, 2018, the FASB issued a greatly anticipated ASU related to the new lease standard. ASU 2018-11, Leases (Topic 842), Targeted Improvements, has two provisions that are intended to make transition to the new lease standard easier and less costly. One is an additional transition method, providing transition relief that will be of great interest to lessees and lessors. The other provides a new practical expedient for lessors in their identification and separation of lease components.
Identifying lease and nonlease components
Not all costs related to a lease are included in the leased asset and liability. For example, a lessor may lease a truck and also include a provision to operate the truck on behalf of the lessee. Providing a driver, maintenance and gas are not related to securing the use of the truck and these costs would be considered nonlease components. Another example of a nonlease component is the fee for common area maintenance when renting office space.
The new lease standard is coming and preparation is critical for a smooth implementation. This is easier said than done and the experts agree: this new standard is complicated.
The new U.S. lease standard, ASC 842, is required for public companies starting their fiscal year after December 15, 2018 and all other companies starting their fiscal year after December 15, 2019. Internationally, the cousin of ASC 842 is IFRS 16, which is effective for annual periods beginning on or after January 1, 2019.