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Top 5 Questions to Ask When Closing Fiscal Year

Whether you are a new business owner or one that’s been in business for years, understanding requirements of a fiscal year close can be confusing. Keeping your financial information and records accurate year-round is critical to the success of your business, and it makes things that much easier during fiscal close.

Here are the top 5 questions you should ask, as you approach the process of closing your 2015 books:

  1. Have you recorded all your revenue for 2015?
  2. Do you have organized processes to record expenses in a timely manner?
  3. Does your accounting function have oversight, checks and balances to ensure your books are accurate on a monthly basis?
  4. Have you contacted your tax professional to schedule a meeting? Definitely try to avoid the March 15th and April 15th rush!
  5. Did you make quarterly estimated tax payments throughout 2015? If not, you should ask your tax professional if this is an option in 2016.

We Can Help

If you need assistance with your fiscal year end close, contact us today. Our outsourced accounting teams are locally based and nationally focused. We can help you with this effort, as well as other accounting and financial analysis needs of your business.

New California Employment Law AB 1522 Requires Employers to Provide Paid Sick Leave

New California Employment Law AB 1522 Requires Employers to Provide Paid Sick Leave

The “Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act of 2014” (AB 1522) was signed into law on September 10, 2014, making California the second state to require that employers provide paid sick leave to its employees. This new law ensures that all working individuals receive adequate time off to tend to their personal healthcare needs or those of their immediate family members.

Who is Impacted?

The new law applies to nearly all employers regardless of size or government affiliation. Exemptions to AB 1522 include employees covered by most collective bargaining agreements, as well as select in-home support providers.

Scope and Application of AB 1522

Accrual Rules
The law provides that each employee shall accrue no less than one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked; however, an employer may limit paid sick leave to six days per year. The law requires existing employees to begin accruing paid sick leave at the effective date, no later than July 1, 2015. For new hires, paid sick leave begins accruing on the first day of employment, which the employee is eligible to begin using after 90 days.

Usage Rules
Unused sick leave shall carry over to the following year; however, employers may limit the amount of sick leave carried over to three days per year. This carryover can be alleviated if an employer grants the sick leave at the beginning of the year, as opposed to accruing for hours worked.

Notice & Posting Rules
Employers are required to advise all existing and new employees of their right to accrue and use paid sick leave without fear of retaliation. This includes written notification to existing employees, as well as visible posters provided by the Labor Commissioner.

Record-Retention Rules
In addition, employers must maintain a minimum of three years of payroll records detailing hours worked, as well as paid sick leave accrued and taken by each employee. Failure to comply with these new policies can result in civil action from the Labor Commissioner or the Attorney General.

If an employer already provides sick time to employees and their current policy meets or exceeds the criteria outlined above, they are not obligated to provide additional paid sick leave.

Cost Per Employee

If an employee works 30 hours per week, they will accrue 52 hours of paid sick leave per year. If the employer limits the accrual to the 48 hours required by the new law and the employee’s wage is $12 an hour, the annual cost to the employer will be $576.

The table below outlines additional scenarios:

ab1522-cost-per-employee

Effective Date

The effective date for implementation is July 1, 2015.

Prepare Your Business for the Update

Although the law does not take effect until July 2015, employers should begin taking steps now to ensure a smooth transition. For assistance in implementing California Employment Law AB 1522 from an accounting standpoint, contact Signature Analytics today.

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FASB Clarifies Guidance on Accounting for Share-Based Payments

FASB Clarifies Guidance on Accounting for Share-Based Payments

In June 2014, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued Accounting Standards Update (Update) 2014-12 regarding stock compensation. The Update clarifies the accounting for share-based payments when the terms of an award provide that a performance target could be achieved after the requisite service period.

Why Is the FASB Issuing This Update?

Companies will often issue share-based payment awards that require a specific performance target to be achieved in order for employees to become eligible to vest. These performance targets often include revenue metrics, IPO transaction, or other profitability goals. Occasionally, the company will allow these performance targets to be achieved after the employee completes the requisite service period. This is often the cash when an employee is nearing retirement.

The FASB identified that companies were treating the compensation cost on these types of awards differently, as the original guidance (Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 718 – Compensation – Stock Compensation) did not contain explicit guidance on how to account for those share-based payments.

Scope and Application of the Accounting Standards Update

The guidance requires that a performance target that affects vesting and that could be achieved after the requisite service period, be treated as a performance condition. ASC 718 indicates that a performance condition should not be reflected in estimating the grant-date fair value of the award; however, compensation cost should be recognized in the period in which it becomes probable that the performance target will be achieved.

At the date it is determined to be probable, a company would recognize compensation cost attributable to the period for which the requisite service period has already been rendered (typically from grant date through the date the target was determined probable). If the performance target is probable of being achieved prior to the end of the requisite service period, the remaining unrecognized compensation cost shall be recognized prospectively over the remaining service period.

Users should note that this guidance differs from that of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). The IASB requires awards with these targets be accounted for as non-vesting conditions which would be reflected in the grant-date fair value of the award.

Who Is Effected by This Update?

The amendments in this Update apply to all reporting entities that grant their employees share-based payments in which the terms of the award provide that a performance target that affects vesting could be achieved after the requisite service period.

Effective Dates

The Update is effective for fiscal years that begin after December 15, 2015 and allows companies to adopt the guidance either (a) prospectively to all awards granted after the effective date, or (b) retrospectively to all outstanding awards with performance targets as of the earliest annual period presented.

Prepare Your Business for the Update

If you require assistance with managing your share-based payment awards, determining the compensation costs to recognize, or other features of ASC 718, contact Signature Analytics.

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Understanding the New Revenue Recognition Standard

Understanding the New Revenue Recognition Standard

On May 28, 2014, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), responsible for International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), responsible for U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (U.S. GAAP), jointly issued a converged standard on the recognition of revenue from contracts with customers.

The core principle of the new standard is for companies to recognize revenue to depict the transfer of goods or services to customers in amounts that reflect the consideration (i.e., payment) to which the company expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services. The new standard also will result in enhanced disclosures about revenue, provide guidance for transactions that were not previously addressed comprehensively (e.g., service revenue and contract modifications), and improve guidance for multiple-element arrangements.

Who is Impacted?

Potentially anyone who accounts for revenue under U.S. GAAP or IFRS and enters into contracts with customers. Industries which are most impacted are software, real estate, and telecom.

Scope of the New Standard

The revised standard replaces all existing U.S. GAAP and IFRS revenue recognition guidance and includes guidance on the following:

  • Revenue contracts with customers
  • Sales / transfers of non-financial assets outside of the entities’ ordinary activities

Application of the New Standard

There are five steps to apply the new standard:

new-rev-recognition-std

In addition to the steps above, there are revised disclosure requirements related to revenue recognition.

The steps above are not required for all sales. For example, a simple point of sale transaction for one discrete product for consideration paid at the time of purchase would only have one performance obligation and therefore there is no need to go through an allocation process as described above.

Transition Effective Dates

For U.S. companies the effective date for implementation is reporting periods beginning on or after December 15, 2016 with a one year deferral for nonpublic entities.

Additional Resources

For a quick overview of the standard, I recommend listening to the one-hour pre-recorded webcast from the FASB / IASB from June 5, 2014.

For a more detailed look, the Big-4 accounting firms have each published guidance on their websites:

Prepare Your Business for the New Standard

Understanding the new revenue recognition standard can be complex and time consuming. If you have questions about the new revenue recognition standard and its impact on your business, contact us for a free consultation.

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Private Company Accounting Changes Endorsed by FASB

Private Company Accounting Changes Endorsed by FASB

On November 25, 2013, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) endorsed an accounting alternative proposed by the Private Company Council (PCC) of the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) which will change the way private companies account for goodwill and intangible assets acquired in a business combination. This change may significantly impact the time and expense incurred by private companies who have acquired a business or are anticipating completing an acquisition in the future. Public companies who may acquire private companies in the future should be aware of this change as well as they would be impacted.

Goodwill represents the residual asset acquired in a business combination after recognizing all identifiable assets and liabilities of an acquired entity. Under the current U.S. GAAP rules, goodwill is subject to impairment testing upon a triggering event and at least annually. The unit of account for goodwill is at the level of the entity referred to as a reporting unit. Prior to 2011, the impairment testing required a company to perform a quantitative analysis to calculate and compare the fair value of a reporting unit to its carrying amount (typically referred to as Step One). If the carrying amount exceeded the fair value, the company would then perform a measurement of the impairment amount. This method is performed in a similar manner as the goodwill was calculated in a business combination in which the company would identify the fair value of all of its assets, including intangible assets, and liabilities of the reporting unit (Step Two). The impairment amount would result in the amount which the carrying value of goodwill exceeded the implied fair value.

This process typically requires a company to hire a third party valuation specialist as the calculations may become complex and require a specific skill set and some audit firms may strongly encourage a company to do so. Additionally, audit firms will add a specialist to their team to review the analysis. These additional specialists become additional costs to the company as well as add time to completing their annual financial statements.

Furthermore, when surveyed by the PCC, users of the financial statements indicated that they disregard non-cash goodwill impairment charges from their quantitative analysis of a private company’s operating performance because they focus on tangible net assets, cash flows, and/or some form of adjusted EBITDA. Some users even noted that an impairment charge may indicate a failure of a business combination but doesn’t predict future failure rather confirms the results of a historical transaction.

In 2011 the FASB amended the impairment testing process to allow companies to perform a qualitative analysis (Step Zero) to determine if it is necessary to proceed to a Step One analysis. This amendment allows companies to potentially avoid hiring a third party valuation specialist on an annual basis if they are able to conclude that there is no qualitative indication of impairment.

The FASB has now approved the proposal by the PCC to allow private companies to amortize goodwill over 10 years or less than 10 years if the entity can demonstrate that another useful life is more appropriate. The private company must still perform an impairment analysis (Step Zero and Step One) if a triggering event occurs to indicate that impairment may exist but the annual analysis will no longer be required; however, the PCC further simplified the goodwill impairment test by eliminating step two of the impairment test, which requires the application of a hypothetical purchase price allocation to calculate the goodwill impairment. Under the alternative method, the goodwill impairment amount would represent the excess of the entity’s carrying amount over its fair value as calculated in Step One of the test.

The alternative accounting guidance for private companies will be applied prospectively for goodwill existing as of the beginning of the period of adoption and for goodwill derived from business combinations entered into during fiscal years beginning after December 15, 2014. Goodwill existing at the beginning of the period of adoption would be amortized prospectively over 10 years or less than 10 years if determined appropriate by the Company. Early adoption would be permitted.

Public companies should consider these changes as well. If a public company were to acquire a private company that has adopted this accounting alternative, the private company’s financial statements would be required to be retrospectively adjusted to account for goodwill in accordance with the standards the public company is required to adhere to.

The FASB is expected to issue an Accounting Standards Update prior to the end of 2013 but since early adoption is permitted it is expected that private companies will adopt the standard in 2013 especially due to potential cost savings. As mentioned above, private companies may be able to reduce costs incurred to third party valuation firms and potentially audit fees as well.

Signature Analytics would be happy to discuss further with you regarding the implications of this accounting change on your financial reporting requirements.

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