What is GASB 87?

GASB Statement No. 87 is the latest lease accounting and financial reporting standard established by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB). GASB 87 applies to state and local governments and it will exist alongside two other new lease accounting standards, ASC 842 and IFRS 16.

What are the primary goals or benefits of GASB 87?

According to the GASB website, GASB 87 aims to:

  1. Increase the usefulness of governments’ financial statements by requiring reporting of certain lease liabilities that currently are not reported.”
    • Under GASB 87, all leases must be reported as a capital lease/financing lease. This eliminates the classification of an operating lease unless the lease is a short-term lease, characterized as 12 months or less. Learn more about capital lease accounting.
  2. Enhance comparability of financial statements among governments by requires lessees and lessors to report leases under a single model.”
    • Under GASB 87, there are three accounting treatments: short-term leases, contracts that transfer ownership and contracts that do not transfer ownership.
    • Under GASB 87, a lessee is required to recognize a lease liability and an intangible right-to-use lease asset, and a lessor is required to recognize a lease receivable and a deferred inflow of resources. This improves the relevancy and consistency of information.
  3. Enhance the decision-usefulness of the information provided to financial statement users by requiring notes to financial statements related to timing, significance, and purpose of a government’s leasing arrangements.”
    • Provides for three accounting treatments: short-term leases, contracts that transfer ownership and contracts that do not transfer ownership.

What qualifies as a lease under GASB 87?

Under GASB 87, leased assets include all non-financial assets, including land, buildings, vehicles and equipment. Out of scope leases and agreements include:

  • Non-financial agreements, including leases of inventory, biological assets and intangible assets.
  • Service concession agreements.
  • Supply contracts.
  • Assets financed with outstanding conduit debt.
  • Short-term leases (12 months or less).

How is GASB 87 different from previous standards?

GASB 87 will replace current GASB guidance, including GASB 62 (issued in 2010 and mirroring much of ASC 840) and GASB 13 (issued in 1990). The primary differences lie in lease classifications – and, by extension, what must be reported and recognized.

Many leases that were previously recognized as operating leases, for example, must be reported as capital leases under the new single-model approach. This is very similar to IFRS 16 (while, under ASC 842, the distinction between operating leases and finance leases still holds). This means that contracts for those leases must appear on the balance sheet, where organizations will have to recognize lease liability and a right-of-use asset.

Overall, then, auditors will no longer look at whether a lease is an operating lease or a capital lease. Instead, they will look at if the lease falls under GASB 87 as a contract lease.

Has GASB 87 been delayed?

Yes. GASB Statement No. 87, Leases, was originally proposed in 2017, with an original effective date of December 15, 2019. However, in May of 2020 GASB released Statement No. 95, which delayed GASB No. 87 until June 15, 2021.

That said, GASB encourages early adoption and achieving compliance with GASB 87 can be complicated and time-consuming, so it is highly encouraged to consider adoption as quickly as possible.

The right lease accounting software can streamline adoption and simplify compliance with all major standards.

Learn about are GASB 87 Lease Accounting Software

What is the difference between GASB 87, ASC 842 and IFRS 16?

The definitions of lease and lease term are generally the same between the standards. However, the GASB approach is consistent with IFRS 16 in that the lessee will classify all leases as financing arrangements. Additionally, accounting for short-term leases and contracts that transfer ownership is different between GASB and FASB.

GASB vs. FASB: Exploring the Differences in Recognition and Reporting

GASB and FASB, the Financial Accounting Standards Board, serve different purposes and constituents. FASB sets accounting standards for private sector entities, while GASB focuses on the public sector. Key differences between GASB and FASB standards include:

  • The use of fund accounting: As mentioned earlier, GASB emphasizes fund accounting to ensure accountability for restricted resources, whereas FASB does not require this approach.
  • Measurement focus and basis of accounting: GASB standards prioritize the measurement of financial flows and the use of accrual accounting, while FASB standards focus on the economic resources measurement and the accrual basis of accounting.
  • Presentation of financial statements: GASB requires governments to present government-wide financial statements, in addition to fund financial statements, to provide a comprehensive view of a government's financial position. FASB does not have this requirement for private sector entities.