Guidance on ASC 450 and ASC 460

On the Radar: Contingencies, loss recoveries, and guarantees

This edition of On the Radar provides an in-depth look at guidance for loss contingencies, gain contingencies, loss recoveries, and contingent liabilities as defined in ASC 450 and ASC 460, as well as examples of how these concepts might be applied in practice.


Understanding contingencies, loss recoveries, and guarantees

Although the guidance in ASC 450 on accounting for contingencies has not changed significantly for decades, it is often challenging to apply because of the need for an entity to use significant judgment in doing so (e.g., when developing legal interpretations). Similarly, the guidance in ASC 460 on accounting for guarantee liabilities, which has existed for two decades, is often difficult to apply because the determination of whether an arrangement constitutes a guarantee is complex.

On the Radar: Accounting for Contingencies and Loss Recoveries

Contingent Liabilities

An entity must recognize a contingent liability when both (1) it is probable that a loss has been incurred and (2) the amount of the loss is reasonably estimable. In evaluating these two conditions, the entity must consider all relevant information that is available as of the date the financial statements are issued (or are available to be issued). The flowchart below provides an overview of the recognition criteria, taking into account information about subsequent events.

If the recognition criteria for a contingent liability are met, entities should accrue an estimated loss with a charge to income. If the amount of the loss is a range, the amount that appears to be a better estimate within that range should be accrued. If no amount within the range is a better estimate, the minimum amount within the range should be accrued, even though the minimum amount may not represent the ultimate settlement amount. Discounting contingent liabilities is generally prohibited.

Continue your contingencies, loss recoveries, and guarantees learning

See Deloitte’s Roadmap Contingencies, Loss Recoveries, and Guarantees for a more comprehensive discussion of this topic.

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