There is currently diversity in practice for the accounting of deferred tax on transactions that involve the recognition of an asset and a liability with a single tax treatment related to both. For example:
- in many jurisdictions, there is one tax deduction for a lease involving the recognition of a right-of-use asset and corresponding lease liability under IFRS 16 Leases1; or
- in some jurisdictions, there may be one tax deduction on a cash basis for a decommissioning expenditure which is recognised as a decommissioning provision and a corresponding adjustment to the cost of property, plant and equipment2.
This diversity – and the potential implications now that IFRS 16 is effective – have prompted the International Accounting Standards Board (the Board) to propose a narrow-scope amendment to the application of the initial recognition exemption in IAS 12 Income Taxes.
The proposed amendments would result in the tax accounting better reflecting the economics of the transaction in which the asset and the liability are integrally linked.
Diversity in application of IAS 12’s initial recognition exemption
- applies the initial recognition exemption (IRE) separately to the lease asset and lease liability and recognises the tax impacts in profit or loss when they are incurred – i.e. does not reflect the future tax impacts of leases (Approach 1); or
- reflects the future tax impacts of leases and recognises deferred tax (Approach 2). When recognising deferred tax a company may have assessed the lease asset and lease liability together as a single or ‘integrally linked’ transaction and assessed the net temporary difference.
In essence, some companies reflect the future tax impacts of leases in their financial statements, whilst others do not. This existing diversity reduces comparability between companies and impairs the usefulness of the information for users of the financial statements.
Narrow-scope amendment to IRE proposed
The Board is proposing to limit the application of the IRE. This means that the IRE would not apply when a company recognises equal amounts of deferred tax assets and liabilities from a single transaction. More specifically, a company would not apply the IRE on initial recognition of a lease (or a decommissioning liability and its corresponding asset). Instead, it would generally recognise deferred tax on the temporary differences that arise on initial recognition.
Effective tax rate may change
The potential impact of the proposed amendments depends upon a company’s current approach to deferred tax accounting for a lease asset and lease liability. If it recognises deferred tax as it recovers (or settles) the associated lease asset and liability – as set out in Approach 2 above – then the impact in the primary financial statements is unlikely to be significant, although disclosures could be affected. However, for a company that follows Approach 1 and applies the IRE to lease assets and liabilities separately, recognising deferred tax could result in an increase in assets and liabilities and a change in the effective tax rate.
Our worked example (PDF 880 KB) illustrates how the proposed amendments would apply in practice and the effect on the effective tax rate. As illustrated below, the effective tax rate under the proposed amendments – i.e. where deferred tax is recognised on the lease asset and liability – will be less volatile and reflect the economics of the lease more closely.
Have your say
Read our comment letter in response to these proposals.
1 IFRS 16 is effective for annual periods beginning on or after 1 January 2019.
2 The proposed amendments have been explained using leases as an example; they would also apply to the recognition of decommissioning liabilities and corresponding adjustment to the asset.