Summary of Statement No. 42

Summaries / Status

Summary of Statement No. 42
Accounting and Financial Reporting for Impairment of Capital Assets and for Insurance Recoveries
(Issued 11/03)

This Statement establishes accounting and financial reporting standards for impairment of capital assets. A capital asset is considered impaired when its service utility has declined significantly and unexpectedly. This Statement also clarifies and establishes accounting requirements for insurance recoveries.

Governments are required to evaluate prominent events or changes in circumstances affecting capital assets to determine whether impairment of a capital asset has occurred. Such events or changes in circumstances that may be indicative of impairment include evidence of physical damage, enactment or approval of laws or regulations or other changes in environmental factors, technological changes or evidence of obsolescence, changes in the manner or duration of use of a capital asset, and construction stoppage. A capital asset generally should be considered impaired if both (a) the decline in service utility of the capital asset is large in magnitude and (b) the event or change in circumstance is outside the normal life cycle of the capital asset.

Impaired capital assets that will no longer be used by the government should be reported at the lower of carrying value or fair value. Impairment losses on capital assets that will continue to be used by the government should be measured using the method that best reflects the diminished service utility of the capital asset. Impairment of capital assets with physical damage generally should be measured using a restoration cost approach, an approach that uses the estimated cost to restore the capital asset to identify the portion of the historical cost of the capital asset that should be written off. Impairment of capital assets that are affected by enactment or approval of laws or regulations or other changes in environmental factors or are subject to technological changes or obsolescence generally should be measured using a service units approach, an approach that compares the service units provided by the capital asset before and after the impairment event or change in circumstance. Impairment of capital assets that are subject to a change in manner or duration of use generally should be measured using a service units approach, as described above, or using deflated depreciated replacement cost, an approach that quantifies the cost of the service currently being provided by the capital asset and converts that cost to historical cost.

Impairment losses should be reported in accordance with the guidance in paragraphs 41 through 46, 55, 56, 101, and 102 of Statement No. 34, Basic Financial Statements—and Management’s Discussion and Analysis—for State and Local Governments, and paragraphs 19 through 24 of Accounting Principles Board Opinion No. 30, Reporting the Results of Operations—Reporting the Effects of Disposal of a Segment of a Business, and Extraordinary, Unusual and Infrequently Occurring Events and Transactions. If not otherwise apparent from the face of the financial statements, the description, amount, and financial statement classification of impairment losses should be disclosed in the notes to the financial statements. If evidence is available to demonstrate that the impairment will be temporary, the capital asset should not be written down.

Impaired capital assets that are idle should be disclosed, regardless of whether the impairment is considered permanent or temporary.

An insurance recovery associated with events or changes in circumstances resulting in impairment of a capital asset should be netted with the impairment loss. Restoration or replacement of the capital asset using the insurance recovery should be reported as a separate transaction. Insurance recoveries should be disclosed if not apparent from the face of the financial statements. Insurance recoveries for circumstances other than impairment of capital assets should be reported in the same manner.

The provisions of this Statement are effective for fiscal periods beginning after December 15, 2004. Earlier application is encouraged.

How the Changes in This Statement Improve Financial Reporting

This Statement improves financial reporting because it requires governments to report the effects of capital asset impairments in their financial statements when they occur rather than as a part of the ongoing depreciation expense for the capital asset or upon disposal of the capital asset. Users of financial statements will better understand when impairments have occurred and what their financial impact is on the government. This Statement also enhances comparability of financial statements between governments by requiring all governments to account for insurance recoveries in the same manner.
 


Unless otherwise specified, pronouncements of the GASB apply to financial reports of all state and local governmental entities, including general purpose governments; public benefit corporations and authorities; public employee retirement systems; and public utilities, hospitals and other healthcare providers, and colleges and universities. Paragraph 2 discusses the applicability of this Statement.