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Chapter 10 Liabilities: Off-Balancesheet Financing, Leases, Deferred Income Taxes, Retirement Benefits, and Derivatives

Clyde P. Stickney and Roman L. Weil

Learning Objectives
1. Understand (a) why firms attempt to structure debt financing to keep debt off the balance sheet and (b) how standard setters have refined the concept of an accounting liability to reduce off-balance-sheet financing abuses. 2. Distinguish between operating leases and capital leases on the bases of their economic characteristics, accounting criteria, and financial statement effects.

Learning Objectives
3. Understand why firms may recognize revenues and expenses for financial reporting in a period different from that used for tax reporting and the effect of such differences on the measurement of income tax amounts on the income statement and the balance sheet. 4. Understand the accounting issues related to retiree benefit plans (such as pensions and health-care benefits).

Chapter Outline
1. Off-balance sheet financing 2. Leases 3. Income tax accounting and deferred income taxes 4. Deferred compensation: pension benefits and other deferred compensation

5. Deferred compensation: health care and other benefits

6. An international perspective

Chapter Summary
7. Appendix 10.1: Effects on the statement of cash flows of transactions involving liabilities

Off-Balance Sheet Financing

Off-balance sheet financing is any means that

secures the use of assets for the firm without having to recognize an off-setting liability.

If the liability is not recognized, then the double-entry system does not allow for the recognition of the asset either, but this is a tradeoff that some managers are willing to make.

Off-Balance Sheet Financing

Off-balance-sheet financing can affect key financial ratios, especially the financing ratios that use total debt as a denominator, showing them to be lower (and more favorable) than they would be if the financing were recognized.

What is the rationale for offbalance sheet financing?

1. It lowers the cost of borrowing if lenders are not aware of the unrecorded liabilities.
This rationale assumes that lenders can be fooled by offbalance-sheet methods. Standard-setting bodies have required increased disclosures of such methods in recent years.

2. It avoids violating some debt covenants; that is, restrictions specified in the debt agreement to protect the lender. These restrictions are sometimes stated in the form of financial ratios which may be effected by whether or not the liability is recorded.

Review the Structuring Off-Balance Sheet Financing

Off-balance-sheet financing falls into one of two categories that accounting does not recognize as liabilities:

1. Executory contracts are promises to pay at a future date for future benefits

These may be legally binding and give both parties valuable rights. Standard accounting would recognize a liability as benefits are received, not when the contract is signed.

2. Contingent obligations are obligations that arise only if a specified set of conditions are met.

Standard accounting would recognize a liability as the contingent events occur rather than when the contract is signed.


Firms may lease (or rent) assets instead of purchasing them.

A true lease would give the lessee (the one paying for use of the asset) flexibility.
Some leases are so inflexible that they are tantamount to a purchase. They may be non-cancelable, long-term and impose on the lessee all costs of operating.

Leases (Cont.)

Private automobile leases are typically so restrictive as to be the economic equivalent of a purchase. A true automobile lease would be more like what is called renting a car. Because of the possibility that leases may be used as a form of off-balance sheet financing, GAAP calls for leases to be capitalized under certain conditions.

Capital and Operating Leases

Capital leases recognize the lease as if it were

a purchase and thus recognize both the leased asset and the lease liability. The lease asset may be depreciated over time and the lease liability may be amortized as payments are made.

If the lease is not capitalized, it may be treated as a true lease (or operating lease). In this case, a lease expense would be recognized as payments were made but no asset or longterm liability would be recognized.

Under what conditions is a lease a capital lease?

GAAP required that a lease be capitalized if any one of the following conditions are met: 1. Transfer of ownership to lessee at end of lease 2. Transfer at bargain purchase option 3. Lease extends for 75% of the assets life 4. PV of lease payments is 90% of fair market value

Capital Leases (cont.)


course, if management wants the lease to be treated as an operating lease, they will structure the lease terms to avoid all four of these criteria.


such cases, the last requirement (90% of fair market value) is considered the most restrictive.

Accounting For Leases

Operating lease or true lease:

Neither the leased asset nor the lease liability are recorded
Lease expense is recognized as cash payments are made or adjusting entries are required

Capital lease:
Both a lease asset (leasehold) and a lease liability are recognized for the PV of the lease obligations As payments are made or adjusting entries required:

The asset may be depreciated

The liability is amortized

Example of Lease Obligation Amortization

Amortization Schedule for $45,000 lease liability, accounted for as a capital lease, repaid in three annual payments of $19,709 with interest at 15% compounded annually.
Interest expense Lease liability Cash col 3 amt col 5 amt

col 4 amt

Example of Lease Obligation Amortization

lease liab. beginning of year


interest expense at 15%


cash payment

reduction lease liab. in lease end of liability year

(5) (6)

1 2 3

$45,000 32,041 17,138

$6,750 4,806 2,571

$19,709 19,709 19,709

$12,959 14,903 17,138

$32,041 17,138 0

Income Tax Accounting and Deferred Taxes

Define these Terms

Book income is income before income taxes for financial reporting purposes
Taxable income is the amount of income on which the income tax is based The two may be different because of:

The timing of recognition may be different, or Some revenues or expenses may have special tax treatments

Income Tax Accounting and Deferred Taxes (Cont.)

What are the difference between book and taxable income?

1. Permanent differences are differences in what is recognized or not. For example, a tax-free bond gives book income but not taxable income. 2. Temporary differences are differences that will equal out over a long time. For example, book income may use straight line depreciation while taxable income will use macrs. Over time, both will depreciate the same amount but at different rates.

Income Tax Accounting and Deferred Taxes (Cont.)

Two views of income taxes:

1. Income taxes are expenses and should be matched or accrued like other expenses. 2. Income taxes are not expenses but are like other taxes and should be recognized at the amount paid in the current period.

U.S. GAAP holds to the first view. Thus, a tax deferral method saves taxes paid during the current period but may not reduce tax expense. Critics of this view hold that tax expense is unlike other expenses in that it does not give rise to the potential for revenues.

Recording the Income Tax Expense

A firm which has temporary differences between tax-based income and book income will record tax expense based on book income, pay the IRS the amount of the tax and the difference generally represents a liability. Year 1 Income tax expense Income tax payable Deferred tax liability 32,000 30,400 1,600

In the future when the deferred taxes become due, the effect is reversed reducing the deferred tax liability.

Year 4

Income tax expense Deferred tax liability Income tax payable

32,000 2,240

Pension Benefits and Other Deferred Compensation

Employers may provide benefits to workers after their retirement.

One reason is to build worker loyalty and goodwill.

Also, at one time, such benefits were a non-cash form of compensation.

Present federal law now requires employers to actually put away cash to cover the obligations of pension benefits.
The amount of cash and the recognition of an expense are complex issues.

Pension Benefits (cont.)

1. Employers set up a pension plan specifying eligibility, promises, funding and an administrator. 2. Employer computes pension expense for each period. 3. Employer transfers cash to a separate pension fund each period.

Pension Benefits (cont.)

4. If cumulative pension expenses exceed cumulative pension funding, a pension liability appears on the balance sheet, else a pension asset is recognized. 5. If the PV of pension commitments to employees exceeds the assets of the fund, a pension liability would also have to be recognized.

Pension Benefits (cont.)

SFAS No. 87 defines two measures of pensions liability: (Define Them)

1. Accumulated benefit obligation

the present value of amounts expected to be paid to employees during retirement based on accumulated service and current salary. 2. Projected benefit obligation the present value of amounts expected to be paid to employees during retirement based on accumulated service to date but using the level of salary expected to serve as a basis for computing pension benefits.

Pension Benefits (cont.)

The administrator of the pension fund should make prudent and profitable investments of those funds.

If the pension funds grows, this adds to the fund since the fund is not an asset of the firm.

Pension Benefits (cont.)


growth does however ease the amount of cash that the firm has to transfer to the fund in future periods.
Fund assets at beginning of the period + Actual earnings on pension fund investments + Contributions from employer - Payments to retirees = Fund assets at end of the period

Health Care and Other Benefits

Health care, insurance and other benefits resemble pension plans in concept.

The PV of such commitments, or health-care benefits obligation, represents an economic obligation of the employer. GAAP requires firms to recognize an expense for these obligations and to recognize liabilities for any under funded obligations. Firms may recognize the full liability in one year or piecemeal over several years.

An International Perspective

Leases -- most industrial countries distinguish between capital and operating leases although the criteria may vary. Income tax accounting -- in general, countries that allow separate rules for tax and financial reporting allow deferred tax accounting. Retirement benefits -- most industrial countries provide worker benefits and some are more generous than in the U.S., however, most do not provide the same detail of accounting disclosure.

Chapter Summary

This chapter completes the discussion of liabilities.

The point was made that liabilities cover some obligations that are difficult to measure.
Leases may represent a significant future obligation.

Pensions certainly do.

Chapter Summary

may give rise to future obligations when aggressive deferral methods are practiced. intent of this chapter was to acquaint the student with many problems of liability accounting and to give the student an appreciation of some liabilities that appear on the balance sheet.


Appendix 10.1: Effects on Cash Flows of Transactions Involving Liabilities

Leases -- Capitalizing a lease results in a

long-lived asset (use of investing cash) and a liability (financing cash). As the asset is depreciated and the liability amortized, operating cash is effected. The two effects may not cancel out because of differences between the depreciation method and the amortization method.

Appendix 10.1: Effects on Cash Flows of Transactions Involving Liabilities


pension is a separate legal entity and is not an asset of the firm, so cash paid in by the employee is not an investment.

Rapid Review - MC
1. A promise to pay at a future date for future benefits is a a. Lease b. Pension

c. Executory contract

d. Capital lease

1. Any means that secures the use of assets for the firm without having to recognize an offsetting liability is a (an) a. Lease c. Off-balance sheet Financing b. Pension d. Capital lease