Summary of Statement No. 123 (revised 2004)
This Statement is a revision of FASB Statement No. 123, Accounting for Stock-Based Compensation. This Statement supersedes APB Opinion No. 25, Accounting for Stock Issued to Employees, and its related implementation guidance.
Scope of This Statement
This Statement establishes standards for the accounting for transactions in which an entity exchanges its equity instruments for goods or services. It also addresses transactions in which an entity incurs liabilities in exchange for goods or services that are based on the fair value of the entity’s equity instruments or that may be settled by the issuance of those equity instruments. This Statement focuses primarily on accounting for transactions in which an entity obtains employee services in share-based payment transactions. This Statement does not change the accounting guidance for share-based payment transactions with parties other than employees provided in Statement 123 as originally issued and EITF Issue No. 96-18, “Accounting for Equity Instruments That Are Issued to Other Than Employees for Acquiring, or in Conjunction with Selling, Goods or Services.” This Statement does not address the accounting for employee share ownership plans, which are subject to AICPA Statement of Position 93-6, Employers’ Accounting for Employee Stock Ownership Plans.
Reasons for Issuing This Statement
The principal reasons for issuing this Statement are:
- Addressing concerns of users and others. Users of financial statements, including institutional and individual investors, as well as many other parties expressed to the FASB their concerns that using Opinion 25’s intrinsic value method results in financial statements that do not faithfully represent the economic transactions affecting the issuer, namely, the receipt and consumption of employee services in exchange for equity instruments. Financial statements that do not faithfully represent those economic transactions can distort the issuer’s reported financial condition and results of operations, which can lead to the inappropriate allocation of resources in the capital markets. Part of the FASB’s mission is to improve standards of financial accounting for the benefit of users of financial information. This Statement addresses users’ and other parties’ concerns by requiring an entity to recognize the cost of employee services received in share-based payment transactions, thereby reflecting the economic consequences of those transactions in the financial statements.
- Improving the comparability of reported financial information by eliminating alternative accounting methods. Over the last few years, approximately 750 public companies have voluntarily adopted or announced their intention to adopt Statement 123’s fair-value-based method of accounting for share-based payment transactions with employees. Other companies continue to use Opinion 25’s intrinsic value method. The Board believes that similar economic transactions should be accounted for similarly (that is, share-based compensation transactions with employees should be accounted for using one method). Consistent with the conclusion in the original Statement 123, the Board believes that those transactions should be accounted for using a fair-value-based method. By requiring the fair-value-based method for all public entities, this Statement eliminates an alternative accounting method; consequently, similar economic transactions will be accounted for similarly.
- Simplifying U.S. GAAP. The Board believes that U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) should be simplified whenever possible. Requiring that all entities follow the same accounting standard and eliminating Opinion 25’s intrinsic value method and its related detailed and form-driven implementation guidance simplifies the authoritative literature.
- Converging with international accounting standards. This Statement will result in greater international comparability in the accounting for share-based payment transactions. In February 2004, the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), whose standards are followed by entities in many countries, issued International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 2, Share-based Payment. IFRS 2 requires that all entities recognize an expense for all employee services received in share-based payment transactions, using a fair-value-based method that is similar in most respects to the fair-value-based method established in Statement 123 and the improvements made to it by this Statement. Converging to a common set of high-quality financial accounting standards for share-based payment transactions with employees improves the comparability of financial information around the world and makes the accounting requirements for entities that report financial statements under both U.S. GAAP and international accounting standards less burdensome.
Key Provisions of This Statement
This Statement requires a public entity to measure the cost of employee services received in exchange for an award of equity instruments based on the grant-date fair value of the award (with limited exceptions). That cost will be recognized over the period during which an employee is required to provide service in exchange for the award—the requisite service period (usually the vesting period). No compensation cost is recognized for equity instruments for which employees do not render the requisite service. Employee share purchase plans will not result in recognition of compensation cost if certain conditions are met; those conditions are much the same as the related conditions in Statement 123.
A nonpublic entity, likewise, will measure the cost of employee services received in exchange for an award of equity instruments based on the grant-date fair value of those instruments, except in certain circumstances. Specifically, if it is not possible to reasonably estimate the fair value of equity share options and similar instruments because it is not practicable to estimate the expected volatility of the entity’s share price, a nonpublic entity is required to measure its awards of equity share options and similar instruments based on a value calculated using the historical volatility of an appropriate industry sector index instead of the expected volatility of its share price.
A public entity will initially measure the cost of employee services received in exchange for an award of liability instruments based on its current fair value; the fair value of that award will be remeasured subsequently at each reporting date through the settlement date. Changes in fair value during the requisite service period will be recognized as compensation cost over that period. A nonpublic entity may elect to measure its liability awards at their intrinsic value through the date of settlement.
The grant-date fair value of employee share options and similar instruments will be estimated using option-pricing models adjusted for the unique characteristics of those instruments (unless observable market prices for the same or similar instruments are available). If an equity award is modified after the grant date, incremental compensation cost will be recognized in an amount equal to the excess of the fair value of the modified award over the fair value of the original award immediately before the modification.
Excess tax benefits, as defined by this Statement, will be recognized as an addition to paid-in capital. Cash retained as a result of those excess tax benefits will be presented in the statement of cash flows as financing cash inflows. The write-off of deferred tax assets relating to unrealized tax benefits associated with recognized compensation cost will be recognized as income tax expense unless there are excess tax benefits from previous awards remaining in paid-in capital to which it can be offset.
The notes to financial statements of both public and nonpublic entities will disclose information to assist users of financial information to understand the nature of share-based payment transactions and the effects of those transactions on the financial statements.
How This Statement Changes Practice and Improves Financial Reporting
This Statement eliminates the alternative to use Opinion 25’s intrinsic value method of accounting that was provided in Statement 123 as originally issued. Under Opinion 25, issuing stock options to employees generally resulted in recognition of no compensation cost. This Statement requires entities to recognize the cost of employee services received in exchange for awards of equity instruments based on the grant-date fair value of those awards (with limited exceptions). Recognition of that compensation cost helps users of financial statements to better understand the economic transactions affecting an entity and to make better resource allocation decisions. Such information specifically will help users of financial statements understand the effect that share-based compensation transactions have on an entity’s financial condition and results of operations. This Statement also will improve comparability by eliminating one of two different methods of accounting for share-based compensation transactions and thereby also will simplify existing U.S. GAAP. Eliminating different methods of accounting for the same transactions leads to improved comparability of financial statements because similar economic transactions will be accounted for similarly.
The fair-value-based method in this Statement is similar to the fair-value-based method in Statement 123 in most respects. However, the following are the key differences between the two:
- Public entities are required to measure liabilities incurred to employees in share-based payment transactions at fair value. Nonpublic entities may elect to measure their liabilities to employees incurred in share-based payment transactions at their intrinsic value. Under Statement 123, all share-based payment liabilities were measured at their intrinsic value.
- Nonpublic entities are required to account for awards of equity instruments using the fair-value-based method unless it is not possible to reasonably estimate the grant-date fair value of awards of equity share options and similar instruments because it is not practicable to estimate the expected volatility of the entity’s share price. In that situation, the entity will account for those instruments based on a value calculated by substituting the historical volatility of an appropriate industry sector index for the expected volatility of its share price. Statement 123 permitted a nonpublic entity to measure its equity awards using either the fair-value-based method or the minimum value method.
- Entities are required to estimate the number of instruments for which the requisite service is expected to be rendered. Statement 123 permitted entities to account for forfeitures as they occur.
- Incremental compensation cost for a modification of the terms or conditions of an award is measured by comparing the fair value of the modified award with the fair value of the award immediately before the modification. Statement 123 required that the effects of a modification be measured as the difference between the fair value of the modified award at the date it is granted and the award’s value immediately before the modification determined based on the shorter of (1) its remaining initially estimated expected life or (2) the expected life of the modified award.
- This Statement also clarifies and expands Statement 123’s guidance in several areas, including measuring fair value, classifying an award as equity or as a liability, and attributing compensation cost to reporting periods.
In addition, this Statement amends FASB Statement No. 95, Statement of Cash Flows, to require that excess tax benefits be reported as a financing cash inflow rather than as a reduction of taxes paid.
How the Conclusions of This Statement Relate to the FASB’s Conceptual Framework
FASB Concepts Statement No. 1, Objectives of Financial Reporting by Business Enterprises, states that financial reporting should provide information that is useful in making business and economic decisions. Recognizing compensation cost incurred as a result of receiving employee services in exchange for valuable equity instruments issued by the employer will help achieve that objective by providing more relevant and reliable information about the costs incurred by the employer to obtain employee services in the marketplace.
FASB Concepts Statement No. 2, Qualitative Characteristics of Accounting Information, explains that comparability of financial information is important because information about an entity gains greatly in usefulness if it can be compared with similar information about other entities. Establishing the fair-value-based method of accounting as the required method will increase comparability because similar economic transactions will be accounted for similarly, which will improve the usefulness of financial information. Requiring the fair-value-based method also enhances the neutrality of the resulting financial reporting by eliminating the accounting bias toward using certain types of employee share options for compensation.
Completeness is identified in Concepts Statement 2 as an essential element of representational faithfulness and relevance. To faithfully represent the total cost of employee services to the entity, the cost of services received in exchange for awards of share-based compensation should be recognized in that entity’s financial statements.
FASB Concepts Statement No. 6, Elements of Financial Statements, defines assets as probable future economic benefits obtained or controlled by a particular entity as a result of past transactions or events. Employee services received in exchange for awards of share-based compensation qualify as assets, though only momentarily—as the entity receives and uses them—although their use may create or add value to other assets of the entity. This Statement will improve the accounting for an entity’s assets resulting from receipt of employee services in exchange for an equity award by requiring that the cost of such assets either be charged to expense when consumed or capitalized as part of another asset of the entity (as permitted by U.S. GAAP).
Costs and Benefits
The mission of the FASB is to establish and improve standards of financial accounting and reporting for the guidance and education of the public, including preparers, auditors, and users of financial information. In fulfilling that mission, the Board endeavors to determine that a proposed standard will fill a significant need and that the costs imposed to meet that standard, as compared with other alternatives, are justified in relation to the overall benefits of the resulting information. The Board’s consideration of each issue in a project includes the subjective weighing of the incremental improvement in financial reporting against the incremental cost of implementing the identified alternatives. At the end of that process, the Board considers the accounting provisions in the aggregate and assesses the perceived benefits and the related perceived costs on a qualitative basis.
Several procedures were conducted before the issuance of this Statement to aid the Board in its assessment of the expected costs associated with implementing the required use of the fair-value-based accounting method. Those procedures included a review of the comment letters received on the Exposure Draft, a field visit program, a survey of commercial software providers, and discussions with members of the Option Valuation Group that the Board established to provide information and advice on how to improve the guidance in Statement 123 on measuring the fair value of share options and similar instruments issued to employees in compensation arrangements. That group included valuation experts from the compensation consulting, risk management, investment banking, and academic communities. The Board also discussed the issues in the project with other valuation experts, compensation consultants, and numerous other constituents. After considering the results of those cost-benefit procedures, the Board concluded that this Statement will sufficiently improve financial reporting to justify the costs it will impose.
The Effective Dates and Transition Requirements of This Statement
This Statement is effective:
- For public entities that do not file as small business issuers—as of the beginning of the first interim or annual reporting period that begins after June 15, 2005
- For public entities that file as small business issuers—as of the beginning of the first interim or annual reporting period that begins after December 15, 2005
- For nonpublic entities—as of the beginning of the first annual reporting period that begins after December 15, 2005.
This Statement applies to all awards granted after the required effective date and to awards modified, repurchased, or cancelled after that date. The cumulative effect of initially applying this Statement, if any, is recognized as of the required effective date.
As of the required effective date, all public entities and those nonpublic entities that used the fair-value-based method for either recognition or disclosure under Statement 123 will apply this Statement using a modified version of prospective application. Under that transition method, compensation cost is recognized on or after the required effective date for the portion of outstanding awards for which the requisite service has not yet been rendered, based on the grant-date fair value of those awards calculated under Statement 123 for either recognition or pro forma disclosures. For periods before the required effective date, those entities may elect to apply a modified version of retrospective application under which financial statements for prior periods are adjusted on a basis consistent with the pro forma disclosures required for those periods by Statement 123. Nonpublic entities that used the minimum value method in Statement 123 for either recognition or pro forma disclosures are required to apply the prospective transition method as of the required effective date.
Early adoption of this Statement for interim or annual periods for which financial statements or interim reports have not been issued is encouraged.