In May 2014, the Financial Accounting Standards Board issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) 2014-09, Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606), providing a robust framework for addressing revenue recognition issues and, upon its effective date, replacing almost all pre-existing revenue recognition guidance. Implementation of the framework provided in the ASU should result in improved comparability of revenue recognition practices across entities, industries, jurisdictions and capital markets.
The new guidance applies specifically to contracts with customers and will impact how member-owned private organizations account for revenue. Since such organizations typically have multiple revenue streams, each one will need to be evaluated during the adoption period.
ASU 2014-09 defines a customer as “a party that has contracted with an entity to obtain goods or services that are an output of the entity’s ordinary activities in exchange for consideration” (ASC 606-10-15-3). This raises a question for member-owned private organizations as to whether a selected transaction involves a member acting as a customer (e.g., purchasing food from a clubhouse) or as an owner, when contributing to a capital assessment, for example. Since organizations typically have more than one form of membership, each offering different rights and benefits, they are now required to individually evaluate their categories and decide whether each obtains an ownership interest or only a privilege.
When evaluating those revenue streams, the majority of transactions are expected to meet the definition of “revenue from a customer” and should not significantly change the way revenue is currently recognized. There are, however, significant transactions that will need to be reviewed to determine the manner revenue is recognized, including those from initiation fees and capital assessments, two examples of how revenue recognition can differ based on its classification as a revenue transaction with a customer, an ownership transaction, or a combination of the two.
If the organization determines the initiation fee and any capital assessment is being received from a member in his or her capacity as an owner, such amounts should be recorded as a contribution of capital and would not be in the scope of the ASU. But if it is deemed to be a revenue transaction, it would fall under the scope of the ASU and the organization should apply the five-step recognition model.
Implementation of ASU 2014-09 must occur no later than the annual reporting period beginning after December 15, 2017. With the deadline looming, all organizations should be well on their way to assessing how the new ASU will impact accounting for revenue transactions and disclosures, and begin developing a corresponding implementation plan.
Should you have any questions regarding the impact of this standard on your organization’s membership revenue, please reach out to Logan Kowcheck, CPA