The ability of investors, taxpayers and researchers to compare financial statements issued by hospitals, universities and other governmental agencies is affected by their understanding of current accounting and reporting rules. Publicly owned not-for-profit organizations report different financial results from those that are privately owned. This study looks at the historical events that brought about the accounting and reporting divergences, discusses the recognition and reporting differences, and explores the implications for statement users.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) have issued significantly different accounting and financial…
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) have issued significantly different accounting and financial reporting standards for contributions. These standards are particularly significant for reporting by private and public institutions of higher education. This paper summarizes many of these differences including timing of revenue recognition, classification of contributed resources, recording pledges, and recognition of “collections.” A framework is suggested for evaluating accounting and financial reporting standards for contributions. Finally, recommendations are made to both FASB and GASB for changes to make their standards more consistent.
The ability of financial statement users, investors, donors and academic researchers to compare financial information issued by nonprofit universities, hospitals…
The ability of financial statement users, investors, donors and academic researchers to compare financial information issued by nonprofit universities, hospitals, fund-raising organizations and government agencies is affected by their understanding of current accounting recognition and reporting guidance. Public nonprofit organizations report different financial results from private nonprofit organizations. This study looks at the events that brought about the divergence in nonprofit financial accounting recognition and reporting for higher education institutions, discusses specific differences, and offers a look at additional changes in recognition and reporting for the sector currently underway.
In 1954, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Committee on Accounting Procedure released an auditing book, which listed under the heading…
In 1954, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Committee on Accounting Procedure released an auditing book, which listed under the heading “Material” certain items of which it cautioned “material errors” could occur (AICPA, 1954, p. 1). From this date until the present, the accounting profession has struggled in its endeavors to find both a suitable definition and associated guidance to determine the materiality of information provided to financial statement users. Accordingly, in September 2015, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued two exposure drafts that address the concept and interpretation (our emphasis) of materiality. The releases are Proposed Amendments to Statement of Financial Accounting Concepts, Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting; Chapter 3: Qualitative Characteristics of Useful Financial Information (Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), 2015a) and Proposed Accounting Standards Update, Notes to Financial Statements (Topic 235) Assessing Whether Disclosures Are Material (FASB, 2015b). In this article, the authors focus on the Chapter 3 amendments (FASB, 2015a), which proposes a new definition whose genesis is based on the US Supreme Court definition of the concept. Accordingly, the authors examined the views of two stakeholders in the US financial reporting system, auditors in large public accounting firms, and Chief Financial Officers of the Fortune 1000 companies, regarding their perceptions of the proposed definition. The authors developed the research instrument to evaluate their perceptions of the proposed definition’s potential impact on various aspects of the audit and financial reports. The authors found that both populations have negative perceptions of the materiality definition in the exposure draft and an interpretation of the responses did not indicate an addition of any benefits from its adoption. Subsequent to our solicitation for our subjects’ opinions, the FASB voted unanimously in November 2017 to remove the reference to materiality as a legal concept (FASB, 2017) and in August 2018 (FASB, 2018) amended FASB Concept Statement No. 8 to replace the materiality definition with language similar to the previously superseded FASB Concept Statement No. 2. However, as the authors will explain in this article, the fact that three authoritative definitions exist, which continue to present problems for financial statement preparers and auditors. In this analysis, the authors find evidence that auditors and investors continue to see a significant difference between the terminology of “users” and “reasonable resource provider” within the various materiality definitions.