Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Calcbench blog may be one of the premier sites for analysis of financial reporting and disclosure, but occasionally other websites do catch our eye. Today we want to flag two recent posts elsewhere on the web, for anyone who wants to stay current on the subject.

First, we talk a lot here about the new accounting standard for revenue recognition, and the disclosures that companies are supposed to be making about how their implementation efforts are going. The required disclosures are spelled out in SAB 74: guidance published by the Securities and Exchange Commission years ago, that explains what companies should be reporting.

Well, the Center for Audit Quality just published fresh help for anyone trying to decipher SAB 74. You can find it on the CAQ website. And don’t forget: we may be busy talking about SAB 74 disclosures for the new revenue standard right now (going into effect December 2017), but after that comes the new leasing standard (going into effect December 2018). Filers have a lot of disclosures to make.

Second, just the other week we posted a short item about revenue from gift cards. Retailers make big money from unspent gift cards that eventually expire (hundreds of millions annually) but most of that future cash is locked away as deferred revenue, because the gift cards haven’t expired yet and technically the money on them may still be spent.

Over at Marketwatch.com, our friend Francine McKenna has a fascinating look at how that revenue from gift cards might change under the new revenue recognition standard. Many retailers, she says, will be able to accelerate recognition of that revenue, rather than wait until that gift card that fell behind your dresser years ago finally expires. Instead, they can recognize revenue based on their customers’ typical redemption habits.

For large retailers (Amazon.com, Walmart, Target, and the like), that change still isn’t likely to be material in dollar terms, because their total revenue is so large. Still, interesting reading for financial reporting geeks, which we at Calcbench are.

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