FASB Moves Forward on Accounting for SPEs

Under pressure to set accounting standards for the kinds of special purpose entities (SPEs) that kept debt off Enron's balance sheet, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has tentatively decided on an approach and directed its staff to begin writing an exposure draft.

The approach will be a blend of the Consolidated Policy-Modified Approach as of Sept. 27, 2000 for "Entities with Limited Powers" and a more recent paper that proposed a possible interpretation of FASB Statement No. 94 on Consolidation of All Majority-Owned Subsidiaries. The Board also considered the approach used by the International Accounting Standards Board in its SIC-12 on Consolidation—Special Purpose Entities.

If the new standard is adopted as currently contemplated, some companies will be required to include more entities in their consolidated statements. Ray Simpson, who heads FASB's consolidation policy project said the FASB has tentatively decided to increase a key threshold for start-up equity from independent investors from its current level of 3 percent to 10 percent, thereby requiring greater investments by third parties before SPEs could be kept off consolidated balance sheets.

The accounting for SPEs has been under consideration by FASB since the mid-1980s as part of the broader issue of determining when one company is in control of another. Simply stated, SPEs are entities set up for narrow purposes. As part of its project, the FASB hopes to better define these entities by providing a list of their common characteristics.

The FASB must seek public comment before adopting any new standards. An optimistic timetable would call for issuance of an exposure draft sometime during the second quarter of 2002, with a final statement possible by the end of the year.

-Rosemary Schlank

You may like these other stories...

Individuals interested in reviewing the proposed 2015 US Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) taxonomy from the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) have until October 31 to submit their written comments....
Ernst & Young 2013 audit deficiency rate 49%, regulators sayMichael Rapoport of the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) found deficiencies in 28 of the...
PwC must face $1 billion lawsuit over MF Global adviceA federal judge on Wednesday ordered PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to face a $1 billion lawsuit claiming that its bad accounting advice was a substantial cause of the...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Sep 9
In this session we'll discuss the types of technologies and their uses in a small accounting firm office.
Sep 10
Transfer your knowledge and experience to prepare your team for the challenges and opportunities of an accounting career.
Sep 11
This webcast will include discussions of commonly-applicable Clarified Auditing Standards for audits of non-public, non-governmental entities.
Sep 24
In this jam-packed presentation Excel expert David Ringstrom, CPA will give you a crash-course in creating spreadsheet-based dashboards. A dashboard condenses large amounts of data into a compact space, yet enables the end user to easily drill down into details when warranted.