A Very Picky Reminder – ICFR and Accounting Standard Implementation Reporting

By: George M. Wilson & Carol A. Stacey

SAB 74 (SAB Codification 11-M) disclosures surrounding the new revenue recognition, leasing and financial instrument impairment standards have been receiving a lot of attention lately, especially with the SEC Staff announcement about them at the September EITF meeting.

This is not the only reporting that a new accounting standard might involve. Since these new standards could have an impact on ICFR, this is a good time to remember the requirements to report material changes in ICFR. These requirements apply to both Item 9A in Form 10-K and Part I Item 4 in Form 10-Q. They begin with S-K Item 308(c):

(c) Changes in internal control over financial reporting. Disclose any change in the registrant’s internal control over financial reporting identified in connection with the evaluation required by paragraph (d) of §240.13a-15 or 240.15d-15 of this chapter that occurred during the registrant’s last fiscal quarter (the registrant’s fourth fiscal quarter in the case of an annual report) that has materially affected, or is reasonably likely to materially affect, the registrant’s internal control over financial reporting.

With changes to ICFR for revenue recognition for information about contracts and estimates, like stand-alone selling price and when control transfers, and changes to ICFR for capitalization of all leases, these new standards could require material changes to ICFR. Is this the type of change included in the S-K 308(c) disclosure requirement?

This is an excerpt from the ICFR C&DI’s, number 7, about SOX reporting which you can find here:

After the registrant’s first management report on internal control over financial reporting, pursuant to Item 308 of Regulations S-K or S-B, the registrant is required to identify and disclose any material changes in the registrant’s internal control over financial reporting in each quarterly and annual report. This would encompass disclosing a change (including an improvement) to internal control over financial reporting that was not necessarily in response to an identified material weakness (i.e. the implementation of a new information system) if it materially affected the registrant’s internal control over financial reporting. Materiality, as with all materiality judgments in this area, would be determined upon the basis of the impact on internal control over financial reporting and the materiality standard articulated in TSC Industries, Inc. v. Northway, Inc. 426 U.S. 438 (1976) and Basic Inc. v. Levinson, 485 U.S. 224 (1988). This would also include disclosing a change to internal control over financial reporting related to a business combination for which the acquired entity that has been or will be excluded from an annual management report on internal control over financial reporting as contemplated in Question 3 above. As an alternative to ongoing disclosure for such changes in internal control over financial reporting, a registrant may choose to disclose all such changes to internal control over financial reporting in the annual report in which its assessment that encompasses the acquired business is included.

The SEC Regulations Committee of the CAQ has also discussed a particularly intricate issue in this transition. What if you change your ICFR this year, but the change is for future reporting when you begin to report under the new standard next year? This issue is still in play, as this excerpt from the minutes discusses:

  1. Changes in ICFR in preparation for the adoption of a new accounting standard

Item 308(c) of Regulation S-K requires disclosure of changes in internal control over financial reporting (“ICFR”) during the most recent quarter that have materially affected or are reasonably likely to materially affect the registrant’s ICFR. The Committee and the staff discussed how this requirement applies to changes in ICFR that are made in preparation for the adoption of a new accounting standard when those changes are in periods that precede the date of adoption and do not impact the preparation of the financial statements until the new standard is adopted.

The staff indicated that they are evaluating whether additional guidance is necessary for applying the requirements of Item 308(c) in connection with the transition to the new revenue standard.

So, as you begin implementing systems and processes for these new standards, don’t forget this part of the reporting!

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

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