Accounting for Business Combinations (Topic 805)

Dahli Gray, Ruben Torres


This article discusses the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) Topic 805, as promulgated by the 2019 Accounting Standards Update (ASU) concerning Business Combinations. It focuses on revenue from contracts with customers. Several concerns regarding how and when to recognize an assumed liability after a business combination were raised by users and preparers of financial statements. Concerns emerged from the differing views on how a liability (that is, performance obligation) is defined within the FASB ASC Topic 606 regarding revenue from contracts with customers. Determining how and if a contract liability is recognized in a business combination from a revenue contract were the major concerns. This article reviews a brief history of business combinations and contracts with customers. It explores the issue from various accounting perspectives (such as financial and managerial accounting, tax accounting, governmental accounting issues, ethical implications, and international accounting). Potential questions for future research regarding this topic are presented. The 16 Comment Letters sent to the FASB are discussed. The results of a survey administered as part of this research are presented.

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