SYNOPSIS: The FASB and the IASB recently issued a joint discussion paper entitled, Preliminary Views on Revenue Recognition in Contracts with Customers. The boards requested comments on whether their proposed model for revenue recognition would improve the usefulness of the financial statement information for financial decision makers. This paper summarizes the AAA’s Financial Accounting Standards Committee’s responses to several of the boards’ specific questions. We support the boards’ proposed comprehensive revenue recognition standard based on the following options: (1) the customer consideration approach (based on initial contract price measurement); (2) no recognition of revenue at contract inception (by assigning the initial contract price to performance obligations); and (3) allocation of the transaction price to multiple performance obligations based on the relative stand-alone prices of each performance obligation. We also recommend that the boards carefully consider the following clarifications as they develop the final exposure draft. The formal definition should specify that the contract be an “enforceable” agreement. The measurement of a performance obligation must be verifiable. While the transfer of an asset to the customer or the acceptance of a service by the customer normally signals the recognition of revenue, we encourage the boards to carefully consider situations (like long-term construction or mining) when the completion of intermediate performance obligations could trigger revenue recognition prior to the transfer of title. Absent special consideration of these situations, companies may be influenced to write contracts in suboptimal ways in an effort to recognize revenue continuously throughout a long-term construction project or in the process of mining or farming. Finally, we highlight difficulties that may arise in allocating the initial transaction price to multiple performance obligation contracts when the individual performance obligations are not normally sold on a stand-alone basis.

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