'Old Hens Make the Best Soup': Accounting for the Earnings Process and the IASB/FASB Attempts to Reform Revenue Recognition Accounting Standards
Accounting in Europe, 2014, Vol. 11, No. 1, 13-33
36 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2014 Last revised: 25 Apr 2014
Date Written: April 14, 2014
By developing a synthesis of documents that have been released officially under the revenue recognition project jointly run by the IASB and FASB, this article points out that the earnings generation and realisation process over time (that is to say, the traditional accounting model) is in reality still playing an important role without losing its raison d'être. Although this model is supposed to have been consistently rejected since the outset on the premise of the adoption of the assets and liabilities approach amid the Boards’ attempt to establish a new revenue recognition model, this article aims at reconfirming the significance and validity of this earnings process – that is, the corporate process of generating and realising earnings over time - as the representational focus of accounting for revenue recognition. Through an internal critique , our article summarizes and discusses successive Boards’ proposals under the same asset-liability approach that they have been advocating for revenue recognition. Through a comprehensive comparative analysis (external critique), our article further criticizes the usefulness and feasibility of this approach, especially the transfer-of-control basis of revenue recognition which the Boards propose. It argues then for an alternative approach that combines asset-liability with revenue-expense accounting while re-establishing focus upon the earnings process over time.
Keywords: revenue recognition, income to the firm, structuring opportunities
JEL Classification: M42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation