Project Pages

Classification of Nonfinancial Assets

Project Description: The objective of this project would be to reconsider the existing classification of nonfinancial assets and other related sub-classifications (for example, capital assets or intangible assets) to ensure that (1) assets are classified in a way that provides the most relevant financial information and (2) the definitions of the classifications are understandable and appropriate to meeting financial reporting objectives. The project also will consider how any classification changes would affect financial statement presentation and disclosure of nonfinancial assets. The project will not, however, reexamine recognition or measurement of nonfinancial assets.

Status: Initial Deliberations

CLASSIFICATION OF NONFINANCIAL ASSETS—PROJECT PLAN


Background: The term nonfinancial asset (or assets) appears several times in GASB literature. Generally, when that term is used, the example provided is capital assets broadly or a specific type of capital asset. Paragraph B7 of the Basis for Conclusions to Statement No. 87, Leases, described nonfinancial assets as a broader category than capital assets; however, the delineation between the two is not clear in existing literature.
 
Additionally, since the issuance of Statement No. 34, Basic Financial Statements—and Management's Discussion and Analysis—for State and Local Governments, as amended, intangible assets have been included in the definition of capital assets. More recently, the Board has classified certain right-to-use intangible assets that result from recognition guidance in Statement 87, Statement No. 94, Public-Private and Public-Public Partnerships and Availability Payment Arrangements, and Statement No. 96, Subscription-Based Information Technology Arrangements, as capital assets, in part due to the Statement 34 inclusion of intangible assets within capital assets.
 
The existing description of capital assets in paragraph 19 of Statement 34 says that capital assets are those that are “…used in operations…” However, reported capital assets may contain certain items that are not being used in operations because they did not meet the definition of an investment found in paragraph 64 of Statement No. 72, Fair Value Measurement and Application, at acquisition.

In the most general sense of the term, nonfinancial assets are pervasive among governments—virtually every government reports some type of nonfinancial asset. Nonfinancial assets other than tangible capital assets used in operations, which would be the primary focus of the project, also are pervasive among governments as evidenced by a survey of financial statement preparers conducted during pre-agenda research. Although many other nonfinancial assets (other than tangible capital assets used in operations) are relatively small in magnitude, some are more significant.
 
During pre-agenda research, respondents to a survey of financial statement users generally considered distinctions between types of nonfinancial assets to be important. A significant number of user respondents indicated that they use information about tangible capital assets used for service in a manner different from their use of information about tangible capital assets held for sale. Many respondents indicated that they also use information in a different manner for other pairs of assets identified in the survey: (1) tangible and intangible capital assets and (2) leased and owned assets. Respondents to that survey stated that information that distinguishes between those types of assets is important, primarily because they either analyze it differently or use it to inform different decisions or assessment of accountability. Reconsidering nonfinancial asset classifications in a comprehensive manner should result in improvements to the information provided in financial statements.

Accounting and Financial Reporting Issues: The following issues would be considered:
  1. How should the existing definitions of nonfinancial assets and capital assets be modified, if at all? Should new classifications be added?
    • Should right-to-use intangible assets resulting from Statements No. 87, Leases, No. 94, Public-Private and Public-Public Partnerships and Availability Payment Arrangements, and No. 96, Subscription-Based Information Technology Arrangements, continue to be classified as capital assets?
    • Should other intangible assets addressed in Statement No. 51, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Intangible Assets, continue to be classified as capital assets?
    • Should other types of assets, such as capital assets held for resale, continue to be classified as capital assets?
  2. If classifications are added, how should those classifications be defined?
  3. If classifications are added and defined or existing definitions or classifications are modified, what should be the effect, if any, on presentation within the statement of net position or disclosure in notes to financial statements?
Project History:
  • Pre-agenda research proposed: August 2020
  • Consultative group appointed? No
  • Research results reported to the Board: July 2021
  • Added to the current technical agenda: August 2021
Current Developments: In July 2022, the Board discussed the scope of project.

Work Plan:
 
Board Meetings Topics to Be Considered
November 2022 Definitions of classifications.
January 2023 Reporting and disclosure implications of classifications.
February 2023 Review first draft of standards section of a proposed Statement; cost-benefit considerations.
April 2023 Review preballot draft of an Exposure Draft of a proposed Statement.
May 2023 Review ballot draft of an Exposure Draft of a proposed Statement and consider for approval.
May–August 2023 Comment period.
September–December 2023 Redeliberations based on respondent feedback.
January 2024 Review preballot draft of a final Statement.
March 2024 Review ballot draft of a final Statement and consider for approval.
 

Classification of Nonfinancial Assets—Recent Minutes

 
Minutes of Meetings, October 11–12, 2022

The Board began deliberations by discussing the classification of intangible lease assets and tangible owned capital assets. The Board tentatively decided that intangible lease assets should be classified separately from tangible owned capital assets by requiring them to be reported by major classes separate from major classes of tangible capital assets.

The Board then discussed the classification of right-to-use intangible assets and right-to-use tangible assets. The Board tentatively decided that right-to-use assets recognized for subscription-based information technology arrangements should be classified separately from other capital assets. Next, the Board tentatively decided that assets representing the right to use intangible underlying assets, other than subscription-based information technology arrangements, should not be classified separately from assets representing the right to use tangible underlying assets. Finally, the Board tentatively decided that assets representing the right to use intangible underlying assets should be classified separately from owned intangible assets.

Minutes of Meetings, August 24–26, 2022

The Board began deliberations by discussing the classification of tangible capital assets held for sale and tangible capital assets used for service. The Board tentatively decided that tangible capital assets held for sale should be classified separately by requiring them to be reported as a major class of capital asset.

The Board then discussed the classification of intangible capital assets and tangible capital assets. The Board tentatively decided that intangible capital assets should be classified separately by requiring them to be reported by major class separate from major classes of tangible capital assets.

Minutes of Meetings, July 13–14, 2022

The Board began deliberations by discussing the scope of the project. The Board tentatively decided that the scope of the project should be limited to the classification of nonfinancial assets and related presentation and disclosure issues. The Board then discussed the five pairs of contrasting asset types considered during pre-agenda research. The Board tentatively decided that all five topics should be explored further in this project. Finally, the Board tentatively decided that both assets consumable in lieu of cash and receivables of nonfinancial assets should be considered in this project.

Classification of Nonfinancial Assets—Tentative Board Decisions to Date


The Board tentatively decided the following:
  • The scope should be limited to the classification of nonfinancial assets and related presentation and disclosure issues.
  • The following pairs of contrasting assets should be explored further:
    • Tangible capital assets held for sale and tangible capital assets used for service
    • Nonfinancial investments and financial investments
    • Intangible capital assets and tangible capital assets
    • Intangible lease assets and tangible owned assets
    • Contracts for the right to use intangible assets and leases of tangible assets.
  • Assets consumable in lieu of cash and receivables of nonfinancial assets should be considered in this project.
  • Tangible capital assets held for sale should be classified separately from tangible capital assets used for service by requiring them to be reported as a major class of capital asset.  
  • Intangible capital assets should be classified separately from tangible capital assets by requiring them to be reported by major class separate from major classes of tangible capital assets.
  • Intangible lease assets should be classified separately from tangible owned capital assets by requiring them to be reported by major classes separate from major classes of tangible capital assets.
  • Right-to-use assets recognized for subscription-based information technology arrangements should be classified separately from other capital assets.
  • Assets representing the right to use intangible underlying assets, other than subscription-based information technology arrangements, should not be classified separately from assets representing the right to use tangible underlying assets.
  • Assets representing the right to use intangible underlying assets should be classified separately from owned intangible assets.
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