FASB Improves the Accounting for Modification of Share-Based Payment Awards

May 23, 2017

The FASB has issued Accounting Standards Update (ASU) No. 2017-09, Compensation—Stock Compensation (Topic 718) — Scope of Modification Accounting. ASU 2017-09 applies to entities that change the terms or conditions of a share-based payment award.

The FASB adopted ASU 2017-09 to provide clarity and reduce diversity in practice as well as cost and complexity when applying the guidance in Topic 718, Compensation—Stock Compensation, to the modification of the terms and conditions of a share-based payment award.

Diversity in practice has arisen in part because some entities apply modification accounting under Topic 718 for modifications to terms and conditions that they consider substantive, but do not when they conclude that particular modifications are not substantive. Others apply modification accounting for any change to an award, except for changes that they consider purely administrative in nature. Still others apply modification accounting when a change to an award changes the fair value, the vesting, or the classification of the award. In practice, it appears that the evaluation of a change in fair value, vesting, or classification may be used to evaluate whether a change is substantive.

Although the Master Glossary of the FASB Accounting Standards Codification™ currently defines the term modification as “a change in any of the terms or conditions of a share-based payment award,” Topic 718 does not contain guidance on what changes are substantive or purely administrative.

The amendments in ASU 2017-09 include guidance on determining which changes to the terms and conditions of share-based payment awards require an entity to apply modification accounting under Topic 718.

These amendments require the entity to account for the effects of a modification unless all of the following conditions are met:

  • The fair value (or calculated value or intrinsic value, if such an alternative measurement method is used) of the modified award is the same as the fair value (or value using an alternative measurement method) of the original award immediately before the original award is modified. If the modification does not affect any of the inputs to the valuation technique that the entity uses to value the award, the entity is not required to estimate the value immediately before and after the modification;
  • The vesting conditions of the modified award are the same as the vesting conditions of the original award immediately before the original award is modified; and
  • The classification of the modified award as an equity instrument or a liability instrument is the same as the classification of the original award immediately before the original award is modified.

The amendments are effective for all entities for annual periods, and interim periods within those annual periods, beginning after December 15, 2017.

Early adoption is permitted, including adoption in any interim period for: (a) public business entities for reporting periods for which financial statements have not yet been issued, and (b) all other entities for reporting periods for which financial statements have not yet been made available for issuance. The amendments should be applied prospectively to an award modified on or after the adoption date.

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