FASB Issues ASU 2019-03, Updating The Definition Of Collections

Posted on: 8/29/19 by Karl F. Newton, CPA

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB or the Board) issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2019-03, Updating the Definition of Collections, to address the issue that the definition of the term collections in the Master Glossary of the FASB Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) was not fully aligned with the definition used in the American Alliance of Museums’ (AAM) Code of Ethics for Museums (the Code).

This ASU was issued to improve the definition of collections in the Master Glossary by realigning it with the definition in the Code. The ASU also makes a technical correction to ASC Topic 360, Property, Plant and Equipment, to clarify that the accounting and disclosure guidance for collections applies to business entities, as well as nonprofit entities, that maintain collections.

The differences in the two definitions is outlined in the excerpts from the full definitions below:

ASC Master Glossary: 
Works of art, historical treasures, or similar assets that are subject to an organizational policy that requires the proceeds of items that are sold to be used to acquire other items for collections.

AAM Definition:
Disposal of collections through sale, trade or research activities is solely for the advancement of the museum’s mission. Proceeds from the sale of nonliving collections are to be used consistent with the established standards of the museum’s discipline, but in no event shall they be used for anything other than acquisition or direct care of collections.

The ASC criterion requiring that collection sales proceeds be used to buy other items for the collection, did not reflect the AAM’s guideline that the proceeds from a sale of a collection can also be used for the direct care of current collections. As a result, museums have been confused about what is in the AAM’s policy guidelines against the FASB’s definition of a collection under ASC Topic 958.

The ASU modifies the ASC definition of collections to permit that the proceeds from sales of collection items can be used to support the direct care of existing collections in addition to the current requirement that proceeds from sales of collection items be used to acquire other items for the collection.

In addition, an entity that holds collections should disclose its organizational policy for the use of proceeds from deaccessioned collection items. The disclosure should include whether the proceeds can be used for acquisitions of new collection items, the direct care of existing collections or both. If an entity that holds collections permits the proceeds to be utilized for direct care, the entity shall disclose its definition of direct care.

The changes, as a result of adopting the provisions of the ASU, will provide readers with more information about how an entity defines collections as well as provide information on what an entity deems to be direct care.

In addition, as a result of this ASU, there will no longer be disparity between the Code and generally accepted accounting principles. The ASU resolves the difficulties that museums have been encountering in determining the value of their collections, which include collections, artwork, artifacts and historical treasures in complying with the Code in order to receive their accreditations from AAM.

The ASU is effective for annual financial statements issued for fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15 2019, and for interim periods within fiscal years beginning after Dec. 15, 2020. Early application of the ASU is permitted. The provisions of the ASU should be applied on a prospective basis.

For more information, contact your Marvin and Company, P.C. representative.

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