IFRS in Focus: COVID-19 Accounting considerations
20 April 2020 update
Deloitte has issued a third publication in connection with accounting considerations in relation to COVID-19.
This IFRS in Focus discusses certain key IFRS accounting considerations related to conditions that may result from the COVID‑19 pandemic. The significance of the individual issues discussed below will of course vary by industry and by entity, but we believe that the following topics will be the most pervasive and difficult to address.
Preparation of forecast cash flow estimates—The use of forecast information is pervasive in an entity’s assessment of, among other things, the impairment of non‑financial assets, expected credit losses, the recoverability of deferred tax assets and the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern. Unique complexities associated with preparing forward‑looking information as a result of the pandemic and economic downturn include the following:
- There is an extremely wide range of possible outcomes, resulting in a particularly high degree of uncertainty about the ultimate trajectory of the pandemic and the path and time needed for a return to a “steady state.”
- The associated economic impact of the pandemic is highly dependent on variables that are difficult to predict. Examples include the degree to which governments prohibit business and personal activities, the associated level of compliance by citizens, the degree to which “flattening the curve” is successful, and the nature and effectiveness of government assistance.
- Each entity must then translate the effect of those macro conditions into estimates of its own future cash flows.
- Nevertheless, entities will need to do their best to make reasonable estimates, prepare comprehensive documentation supporting the basis for such estimates and provide robust disclosure of the significant judgements exercised, the key assumptions used and, potentially, their sensitivity to change.
Recoverability and impairment of assets—Perhaps the most acute example of the increased challenge associated with forecast information is the impairment testing for non-financial assets (for example, property, plant and equipment (PP&E), right-of-use assets, intangible assets and goodwill). The impairment test for these assets often requires the development of cash flow projections that are subject to the significant uncertainties noted above.
Accounting for financial assets—There has been a severe decline in the fair value of many financial assets, particularly equity securities. Likewise, the ability of debtors to comply with the terms of loans and similar instruments has been adversely affected. Entities will need to carefully consider and apply the appropriate measurement and impairment loss recognition requirements.
Contract modifications—Changes in the economic activity caused by the pandemic will cause many entities to renegotiate the terms of existing contracts and arrangements. Examples include contracts with customers, compensation arrangements with employees, leases and the terms of many financial assets and liabilities. Entities will need to ensure that the relevant requirements in IFRS Standards are applied.
Events after the end of the reporting period—It may be challenging for an entity to determine if an event after the end of the reporting period is adjusting or non-adjusting in a global marketplace that is extremely volatile and in which major developments occur daily (e.g. announcements of government stimuli and restrictions) and the stock market’s daily reaction to new information. Although entities may not have all facts “on hand” at the reporting date, once such facts are gathered an assessment must be based on conditions as they existed at the reporting date. The amounts in the financial statements must be adjusted only to reflect subsequent events that provide evidence of conditions that existed at the reporting date. With respect to reporting periods ending on or before 31 December 2019, it is generally appropriate to consider that the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak on an entity are the result of events that arose after the reporting date, for example decisions made in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, that may require disclosure in the financial statements, but would not affect the amounts recognised. For subsequent reporting periods, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic may affect the recognition and measurement of assets and liabilities in the financial statements. This will be highly dependent on the reporting date, the specific circumstances of the entity’s operations and the particular events under consideration.
Going concern—As a result of COVID-19 and its associated effects, entities need to consider whether, in their specific circumstances, they have the ability to continue as a going concern for at least, but not limited to, 12 months from the reporting date. Management’s assessment of the entity’s ability to continue as a going concern involves making a judgement, at a particular point in time, about inherently uncertain future outcomes of events or conditions. This will require an entity to consider, among other things, (1) the extent of operational disruption; (2) potential diminished demand for products or services; (3) contractual obligations due or anticipated within one year; (4) potential liquidity and working capital shortfalls; and (5) access to existing sources of capital (e.g., available line of credit, government aid). In making its going concern assessment, IAS 10 Events after the Reporting Period requires an entity to consider events up to the date of authorisation of the financial statements. In certain jurisdictions, regulations may extend this period (e.g. until presentation of the financial statements at an annual shareholders’ meeting).
Entities must carefully consider their unique circumstances and risk exposures when analysing how recent events may affect their financial statements. Specifically, financial statement disclosures will need to convey the material effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.