Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Lauren Covell
Lease impairments force organizations to report their assets on the balance sheet at their fair market value and better reflect the financial picture of a business’s assets for users of the financial statements.
In today’s ever-changing economic environment, there are many global events that can adversely impact companies and cause uncertainty. Natural disasters, global pandemics and geo-political conflicts are just a few examples of potential impairments of leased assets. Which, ultimately, forces companies to adapt both their current and future strategies.
Impaired assets, especially due to an economic downturn, can influence a company to re-analyze future cash flows, re-evaluate their current forecasts/budgets and re-consider whether a leased (or owned) location is worth remaining in operation. All of the scenarios above could be considered indications that an impairment has occurred. Both private companies and public companies alike will want to evaluate the financial liabilities and even expected credit losses as a result of lease impairments.
What is an impairment?
Impairment is an accounting concept that occurs when the cash flows generated by an asset (or group of assets) change in a negative manner. Take a large restaurant chain as an example: if during the pandemic, they were forced to close indoor dining at one of their restaurants the associated cash flows generated by that restaurant would drastically differ from pre-pandemic volumes.
When this occurs a company is required to perform various tests to ensure that the fair value of the asset (or group of assets) has not been significantly impacted by the decrease in generated cash flows.
If the results of the underlying tests reveal that the asset (or group of assets)’s value has fallen below its carrying value then an impairment for accounting purposes has occurred and the asset (or group of assets) value must be reduced to its new fair value for the underlying asset or assets.
What is the significance of impairment in the context of ASC 842/ IFRS 16?
Under both US GAAP and IFRS companies are required to include their right-of-use assets in an impairment assessment at least once every reporting period. Understanding your financial reporting requirements is crucial to accurate financial records and obtaining a clean audit opinion, under the new guidance.
How do I perform an impairment assessment?
The first step to performing an impairment assessment under both accounting standards is to assess for indicators of impairment. An indicator of impairment is an external or internal event that has taken place that serves as a signal that an impairment could have occurred after the initial measurement. A few examples of indicators of impairment are as follows:
- Significant changes to the way the asset (or group of assets) are being used.
- Legal proceedings impacting the use of the asset (or group of assets).
- Geo-political conflict and/or unrest.
- Natural disasters impacting the use of the asset (or group of assets).
A more in-depth discussion of indicators of impairment can be found in ASC 360-10-35-21 and IAS 36, paragraph 12.
Under US GAAP, if indicators of impairment are present, then the next step is to perform the recoverability test (as per ASC 360-10-35-17). The recoverability test compares the undiscounted future cash flows generated from the asset (or group of assets) to the carrying value of the asset (or group of assets).
If the undiscounted future cash flows generated by the asset (or group of assets) exceed(s) the carrying amount of the asset (or group of assets) then an impairment has not occurred and no further testing is required.
If the undiscounted future cash flows generated by the asset (or group of assets) are less than the carrying amount of the asset (or group of assets) then an impairment has occurred and further steps need to be performed to determine the value of the impairment- this step will be outlined further below.
Under IFRS, if indicators of impairment are present, the next step is to perform what is known as “the one-step test.” This step involves comparing the carrying amount of the asset (or group of assets) to the higher of either: the fair value less any costs to dispose of the asset (or group of assets) or value in use (or VIU) of the asset (or group of assets). The VIU of an asset (or group of assets) equates with the discounted cash flows generated by the asset (or group of assets). When discounting, a company should use its weighted average cost of capital to discount the cash flows.
Under both US GAAP and IFRS if the assessment(s) reveals that an impairment has taken place, the final step is to account for the impairment charge. In the case of a single asset, the impairment charge equates to the difference between the recoverable amount of the asset and the carrying value.
When a company groups assets for the purposes of impairment testing and an impairment is present a company must allocate the impairment charge across each asset based on the fair value of each asset. This process can be quite complex and time consuming as often third-party evaluators are required to calculate fair values of the assets grouped together.
Lease Impairment Documentation
Documentation of your organization’s key assumptions as it relates to lease impairments, and their impact on your financial position are imperative. Under the new Accounting Standards Codification and the IASB , CPA’s and their auditors will want a clear trail of documentation that outlines the significant impacts of said lease impairment.
Within the Occupier platform companies have the ability to calculate impairment(s) associated with an impairment of a right-of-use asset. Occupier will also prepare the associated disclosures related to an impairment of a right-of-use asset during a fiscal period.
In the video above, we highlighted how you can easily calculate the impairment loss entries and establish a new amortization schedule based on the impairment information. Under the new accounting policy, the future lease payments and the lease liabilities over the remaining lease term will reflect the lease accounting for said impairment and an update of the asset’s life.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I determine which cash flows an asset (or group of assets) generates?
Under both US GAAP and IFRS when assessing future cash flows generated by an asset (or group of assets) the general rule of thumb is to project the future cash flows generated by that asset (or group of assets) over its remaining useful life.
Generally, companies use an operational forecast for the company as a whole (or for a specific region) as a foundational estimate for the cash flows generated by an asset (or group of assets).
For an assessment prepared under US GAAP a company shall adjust their operational forecast to exclude outflows of cash related to: taxes, overhead expenditures, financing expenditures (such as interest and debt payments). The rationale behind excluding the aforementioned expenditures is due to the fact that they relate to a business as a whole and not a specified asset (or group of assets).
For an assessment prepared under IFRS a company shall adjust their operational forecast to exclude: taxes and financing expenditures (such as interest and debt payments). An important distinction to be made is that unlike under US GAAP the following inflows and outflows of cash are also to be included in the assessment: costs required to bring the asset (or group of assets) into an operational state, net cash flows incurred/received with respect to selling/disposing of the asset (or group of assets) and overhead costs that can be reasonably allocated to the asset (or group of assets).
How do I determine which asset (or group of assets) to include in my Impairment assessment?
Both US GAAP and IFRS utilize a similar approach when it comes to grouping assets together for impairment assessments.
For the purposes of US GAAP companies are permitted to group assets together for the purposes of impairment testing — this concept is also known as asset grouping. Asset grouping is permitted so long as the group of assets represents the lowest level that identifiable cash flows are independent of the cash flows of other groups of assets.
The grouping of assets for impairment testing purposes is highly judgemental and can be very beneficial to companies who are required to perform impairment assessments as it can remove the burden of preparing numerous assessments.
To provide an example of the concept of grouping assets together for impairment assessment purposes one can revert back to the example of the large restaurant chain utilized earlier. At a large restaurant chain each location or lease is composed of numerous assets, which if impairment indicators were present would each require an impairment assessment (if grouping was not possible).
In cases such as this (and many others) the FASB has permitted companies to group the assets of a single restaurant location together into one impairment assessment (ex: real estate lease, owned restaurant equipment, delivery vehicles, etc.). These assets can be grouped together, due to the fact that when combined, they all generate the cash flows associated with that restaurant location. In other words, leased real estate space cannot generate cash flows without the restaurant equipment and delivery vehicles and vice versa.
When performing an impairment analysis under IFRS a company would utilize the same approach of grouping assets; however under IFRS this term is commonly referred to as a cash generating unit (or CGU).
ROU Asset Impairment Example
Pizza Pie Co. is a large full-service pizza chain that operates across the United States and the United Kingdom. In total Pizza Pie Co. has 55 locations.
During the 2020 fiscal period Pizza Pie Co. felt the wrath of COVID-19 and was forced to close indoor dining across all of their 55 locations. This left these locations with only take-out and delivery as streams of revenue.
Pizza Pie Co.’s auditors, Auditor LLC, have asked Pizza Pie Co. to prepare an impairment assessment for two locations, London, England and Chicago, Illinois under both US GAAP (for the Chicago location) and IFRS (for the London location).
Step 1- Assess for indicators of impairment
In looking at the financials for both the London and Chicago locations you have uncovered that the gross profit of the London location has reduced by 75% and the Chicago location’s gross profit has reduced by 25%. The downturn in profits is due to not being able to provide indoor dining to customers (which is the main feature of each location). At the moment, there are no known timelines for when indoor dining will return for either location.
You have assessed that there are indications of impairment for both locations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the use of both locations being severely limited by the pandemic. You now proceed with a formal impairment assessment under US GAAP and IFRS.
For all other Pizza Pie Co. locations, indoor dining remained uninterrupted and the profits actually grew year-over-year.
Step 2- Group assets (or CGUs) for impairment assessment(s) where possible
Both IFRS and US GAAP allow grouping of assets for impairment assessments. Both the Chicago and London locations are composed of numerous assets that work together to generate cash in flows. Both locations also have independent cash flows as they do not rely on any other location to generate profits.
Therefore, for the purposes of assessing whether an impairment has occurred each location can be viewed as an independent group of assets and be included in two separate impairment assessments.
Step 3 – Assess each location for impairment
Chicago lease impairment assessment under ASC 842
You begin with assessing the Chicago location for impairment under US GAAP. You have just finished your 10-year operational forecast for the Chicago location and have calculated that your net cash flows after the 10-year period (excluding interest, taxes and overhead costs) are approximately $5,000,000.
You then accumulate the total carrying amount of all assets at the Chicago location and note that the total is $3,000,000.
Given that the undiscounted future cash flows are $2,000,000 higher than the carrying amount of the assets within the asset group you may pass on further assessment and conclude that there is no impairment present for the 2020 fiscal period at the Chicago location.
Now that you have concluded that there is no impairment for US GAAP purposes at the Chicago location you now must assess for impairment at the London location under IFRS.
London lease impairment assessment under IFRS 16
The first step under IFRS is to accumulate the total carrying values of the group of assets. After review, you note that the carrying value of the CGUs assets equates to £3,500,000. The next step is to compare the carrying value of the CGU to the higher of: the fair value of the CGU less any costs of disposal and the VIU of the CGU.
You hire a third-party external valuations specialist who estimates the fair value, less the costs of disposal of the London location to be £3,000,000
The 10-year operational forecast was also recently completed for the London location and has yielded £1,500,000 (after removing: taxes and interest and including: net cash flows required to bring the CGU into an operational state and salvage/disposal costs) when discounted using the weighted average cost of capital for the London location.
You have concluded that an impairment of £500,000 has taken place as the carrying value of the CGU (£3,500,000) exceeds the fair value less costs of disposal by £500,000 (£3,500,000 less £3,000,000).
Utilizing the valuation report prepared by the third-party valuations specialist you determine that the impairment charge of £500,000 should be recorded as follows:
Dr. Impairment Charge £500,000
Cr. ROU Asset £100,000
Cr. Delivery Vehicles £150,000
Cr. Restaurant Equipment £250,000
Once this journal entry is posted the carrying values of the assets that comprise the CGU will now equate their fair value for the 2020 reporting period.
Lease impairments are incredibly common during a time of economic turbulence. Accounting for these types of lease modifications requires that a major part of the cash flows associated with the ROU assets within your lease portfolio undergo a revaluation model. Ultimately, businesses should document their judgements, assumptions and internal control procedures as it relates to the new leasing standard.
All leased assets, corresponding lease liabilities, and potential lease impairments can have a significant impact on your income statement and financing activities. Clearly documenting your analysis will better prepare your internal teams for auditing activities and of course the lease accounting compliance transition.
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