Summary of Statement No. 81

Statement No. 81
Irrevocable Split-Interest Agreements
(Issued 03/16)

The objective of this Statement is to improve accounting and financial reporting for irrevocable split-interest agreements by providing recognition and measurement guidance for situations in which a government is a beneficiary of the agreement.

Split-interest agreements are a type of giving agreement used by donors to provide resources to two or more beneficiaries, including governments. Split-interest agreements can be created through trusts—or other legally enforceable agreements with characteristics that are equivalent to split-interest agreements—in which a donor transfers resources to an intermediary to hold and administer for the benefit of a government and at least one other beneficiary. Examples of these types of agreements include charitable lead trusts, charitable remainder trusts, and life-interests in real estate.

This Statement requires that a government that receives resources pursuant to an irrevocable split-interest agreement recognize assets, liabilities, and deferred inflows of resources at the inception of the agreement. Furthermore, this Statement requires that a government recognize assets representing its beneficial interests in irrevocable split-interest agreements that are administered by a third party, if the government controls the present service capacity of the beneficial interests. This Statement requires that a government recognize revenue when the resources become applicable to the reporting period.

The requirements of this Statement are effective for financial statements for periods beginning after December 15, 2016, and should be applied retroactively. Earlier application is encouraged.

How the Changes in This Statement Will Improve Financial Reporting

This Statement enhances the comparability of financial statements by providing accounting and financial reporting guidance for irrevocable split-interest agreements in which a government is a beneficiary. This Statement also enhances the decision-usefulness of general purpose external financial reports, and their value for assessing accountability, by more clearly identifying the resources that are available for the government to carry out its mission.

Unless otherwise specified, pronouncements of the GASB apply to financial reports of all state and local governmental entities, including general purpose governments; public benefit corporations and authorities; public employee retirement systems; and public utilities, hospitals and other healthcare providers, and colleges and universities. Paragraph 3 discusses the applicability of this Statement.