The standard-setters’ toolkit: can principles prevail over bright lines?

The standard-setters’ toolkit: can principles prevail over bright lines? We study lease accounting in an international panel data set to examine how accounting outcomes vary with two features of accounting standards: the emphasis on using professional judgement to apply principles, and the presence or absence of bright-line tests. We study four countries—Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US—and companies in two lease-intensive industries—retail and transportation. Our primary study period spans the time when Australia and the UK switched from domestic to international accounting standards, and in one test, we also consider Canada’s transition to international standards. We find that neither an explicit requirement to apply a principle nor omitting bright-line tests materially increases the use of capital lease treatment among these firms. Overall, we conclude that this financial reporting outcome is relatively insensitive to these standard-setting tools. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Review of Accounting Studies Springer Journals

The standard-setters’ toolkit: can principles prevail over bright lines?

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Publisher
Springer US
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by The Author(s)
Subject
Business and Management; Accounting/Auditing; Corporate Finance; Public Finance
ISSN
1380-6653
eISSN
1573-7136
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11142-017-9392-4
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

We study lease accounting in an international panel data set to examine how accounting outcomes vary with two features of accounting standards: the emphasis on using professional judgement to apply principles, and the presence or absence of bright-line tests. We study four countries—Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US—and companies in two lease-intensive industries—retail and transportation. Our primary study period spans the time when Australia and the UK switched from domestic to international accounting standards, and in one test, we also consider Canada’s transition to international standards. We find that neither an explicit requirement to apply a principle nor omitting bright-line tests materially increases the use of capital lease treatment among these firms. Overall, we conclude that this financial reporting outcome is relatively insensitive to these standard-setting tools.

Journal

Review of Accounting StudiesSpringer Journals

Published: May 5, 2017

References

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