FASB Simplifies the Goodwill Impairment Test

March 2017

The US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2017-04, Intangibles - Goodwill and Other (Topic 350): Simplifying the Test for Goodwill Impairment.

The FASB issued ASU 2017-04 to simplify how an entity is required to test goodwill for impairment. Under the current standard, goodwill impairment is tested using one and possibly two steps. Step 2 measures a goodwill impairment loss by comparing the implied fair value of a reporting unit’s goodwill with the carrying amount of that goodwill.

To simplify the subsequent measurement of goodwill, the amendments eliminate Step 2 from the goodwill impairment test. The annual, or interim, goodwill impairment test is performed by comparing the fair value of a reporting unit with its carrying amount. An impairment charge should be recognised for the amount by which the carrying amount exceeds the reporting unit’s fair value; however, the loss recognised should not exceed the total amount of goodwill allocated to that reporting unit. In addition, income tax effects from any tax deductible goodwill on the carrying amount of the reporting unit should be considered when measuring the goodwill impairment loss, if applicable.

ASU 2017-04 also eliminates the requirements for any reporting unit with a zero or negative carrying amount to perform a qualitative assessment and, if it fails that qualitative test, to perform Step 2 of the goodwill impairment test. An entity still has the option to perform the qualitative assessment for a reporting unit to determine if the quantitative impairment test is necessary.

The amendments should be applied on a prospective basis. The nature of and reason for the change in accounting principle should be disclosed upon transition.

A public business entity that is a US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filer should adopt the amendments for its annual or any interim goodwill impairment tests in fiscal years beginning after 15 December 2019.

A public business entity that is not an SEC filer should adopt the amendments for its annual or any interim goodwill impairment tests in fiscal years beginning after 15 December 2020.

All other entities, including not-for-profit entities, which adopt the amendments should do so for their annual or any interim goodwill impairment tests in fiscal years beginning after 15 December 2021.

Early adoption is permitted for interim or annual goodwill impairment tests performed on testing dates after 1 January 2017.

ASU 2017-04 is available on this link.

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