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Business and Policy Areas
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FASB Clarifies Conditional Asset Retirement Obligation

April 21, 2005

The Financial Accounting Standards Board published Interpretation No. 47, “Accounting for Conditional Asset Retirement Obligations,” on March 31. The interpretation clarifies the term conditional asset obligation used in FASB Statement No. 143, “Accounting for Asset Retirement Obligations.” According to the interpretation, a conditional asset retirement obligation refers to a legal obligation to perform the asset retirement activity. 

In general, FASB believes that when an obligation meets the definition of a liability, it should be recognized. The Board believes that questions about uncertainty in the timing and method of payment are measurement issues that usually can be addressed by using a fair value measure. The interpretation represents a relatively recent change in thought from FASB’s earlier statements—most notably FASB Statement No. 5, "Accounting for Contingencies," which required an entity to consider uncertainty in its determination of whether to recognize a liability.

The interpretation is effective no later than the end of fiscal years ending after December 15, 2005 (December 31, 2005, for calendar-year organizations).

For information, please contact Sue Menditto.