FASB Issues FAS 143, Accounting for Asset Retirement Obligations

Companies must record the fair value of a liability for an asset retirement obligation in the period in which it is incurred.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued Statement No. 143, Accounting for Asset Retirement Obligations on Thursday. Initiated in 1994, the project focused on accounting for the costs of nuclear decommissioning. Later, FASB expanded the project’s scope to include similar closure costs in other industries that are incurred at any time during the life of an asset.

The new rule requires businesses to record the fair value of a liability for an asset retirement obligation in the period in which it is incurred. When the liability is initially recorded, the entity capitalizes a cost by increasing the carrying amount of the related long-lived asset. Over time, the liability is accreted to its present value each period, and the capitalized cost is depreciated over the useful life of the related asset. Upon settlement of the liability, an entity either settles the obligation for its recorded amount or incurs a gain or loss upon settlement.

The rule is effective for fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2002.

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