United States

Guidance issued for certain debt extinguishment issues


Currently Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 7, Advance Refundings Resulting in Defeasance of Debt, requires that debt be considered defeased in substance when the debtor irrevocably places cash or other monetary assets acquired with refunding debt proceeds in a trust to be used solely for satisfying scheduled payments of both principal and interest of the defeased debt. The trust also is required to meet certain conditions for the transaction to qualify as an in-substance defeasance. The GASB recently issued Statement No. 86, Certain Debt Extinguishment Issues, which establishes essentially the same requirements for when a government places cash and other monetary assets acquired with only existing resources in an irrevocable trust to extinguish the debt. However, in financial statements using the economic resources measurement focus, governments should recognize any difference between the reacquisition price (the amount required to be placed in the trust) and the net carrying amount of the debt defeased in substance using only existing resources as a separately identified gain or loss in the period of the defeasance.

Governments that defease debt using only existing resources are required to provide a general description of the transaction in the notes to the financial statements in the period of the defeasance. In all periods following an in-substance defeasance of debt using only existing resources, the amount of that debt that remains outstanding at period end is required to be disclosed.

For governments that extinguish debt, whether through a legal extinguishment or through an in-substance defeasance, Statement 86 requires that any remaining prepaid insurance related to the extinguished debt be included in the net carrying amount of that debt for the purpose of calculating the difference between the reacquisition price and the net carrying amount of the debt.

One of the criteria for determining an in-substance defeasance is that the trust hold only monetary assets that are essentially risk-free. If the substitution of essentially risk-free monetary assets with monetary assets that are not essentially risk-free is not prohibited, governments should disclose that fact in the period in which the debt is defeased in substance. In subsequent periods, governments should disclose the amount of debt defeased in substance that remains outstanding for which that risk of substitution exists.

The requirements of Statement 86 are effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2017. Earlier application is encouraged.