Contingent Liability Definition

The SEC has indicated that, for those unable to estimate the amount or a range, there should be enough disclosure about the potential contingent loss so the disclosure’s reader can understand its magnitude. For public companies, disclosure of contingent contra asset account liabilities — such as those associated with pending litigation or governmental investigations — is a highly sensitive matter. It’s important to keep investors and other stakeholders informed of risks that may affect a company’s future performance.

The disclosure should include an estimate of the amount of the contingent loss or an explanation of why it can’t be estimated. If a contingent loss is remote, no disclosure or accrual is required. If a contingent loss is probable, retained earnings the company must record an accrual provided it can reasonably estimate the amount or a range of amounts. Otherwise, it should disclose the nature of the contingency and explain why the amount can’t be estimated.

What Are The Reporting Requirements Of Contingent Liabilities?

First, following is the necessary journal entry to record the expense in 2019. Let’s expand our discussion and add a brief example of the calculation and application of warranty expenses. refers to the company’s ability to reasonably estimate the amount of loss. Even though a reasonable estimate is the company’s best guess, it should not be a frivolous number. For a financial figure to be reasonably estimated, it could be based on past experience or industry standards (see Figure 12.9). It could also be determined by the potential future, known financial outcome. What happens if your business anticipates incurring a loss or debt?

  • “Reasonably possible” means that the chance of the event occurring is more than remote but less than likely.
  • Prudence is a key accounting concept that makes sure that assets and income are not overstated, and liabilities and expenses are not understated.
  • Determining whether a liability is remote, reasonably possible or probableandestimating losses are subjective areas of financial reporting.
  • Disclose the existence of a contingent liability in the notes accompanying the financial statements if the liability is reasonably possible but not probable, or if the liability is probable, but you cannot estimate the amount.
  • They also will evaluate whether existing loss estimates are still reasonable.

However, companies want to avoid alarming investors with losses that are unlikely to occur or disclosing their litigation strategies. The SEC has continued to focus on the required disclosures, and has noted that many companies aren’t providing the required information related to reasonably possible losses. Name 3 https://business-accounting.net/ common contingent liabilities and indicate how they are handled in the financial statements. If the lawsuit is frivolous, there may be no need for disclosure. Any case with an ambiguous chance of success should be noted in the financial statements but do not need to be listed on the balance sheet as a liability.

Remote Possibility

In this case, a note disclosure is required in financial statements, but a journal entry and financial recognition should not occur until a reasonable estimate is possible. For our purposes, assume that Sierra Sports has a line of soccer goals that sell for $800, and the company anticipates selling 500 goals this year . Past experience for the goals that the company has sold is that 5% of them will need to be repaired under their three-year warranty program, and the cost of the average repair is $200.

a contingent liability that is reasonably possible should be

Contingent liabilities are recorded to ensure that the financial statements are accurate and meet GAAP or IFRS requirements. If the liability is likely to occur and the amount can be reasonably estimated, the liability should be recorded in the accounting records of a firm. Remotelosses typically don’t require disclosure in your financial statements. If a loss isreasonably possible, you would add a note about it to a contingent liability that is reasonably possible should be the company’s financial statements. The same approach applies when the loss isprobable, but it remains impossible to estimate the magnitude with any degree of certainty. Since this condition does not meet the requirement of likelihood, it should not be journalized or financially represented within the financial statements. Rather, it is disclosed in the notes only with any available details, financial or otherwise.

Iasb Publishes Amendments To Ifrs 3 To Update A Reference To The Conceptual Framework

To simplify our example, we concentrate strictly on the journal entries for the warranty expense recognition and the application of the warranty repair pool. If the company sells 500 goals in 2019 and 5% need to be repaired, then 25 goals will be repaired at an average cost of $200. The average cost of $200 × 25 goals gives an anticipated future repair cost of $5,000 for 2019. Assume for the sake of our example that in 2020 Sierra Sports made repairs cash basis that cost $2,800. Following are the necessary journal entries to record the expense in 2019 and the repairs in 2020. The resources used in the warranty repair work could have included several options, such as parts and labor, but to keep it simple we allocated all of the expenses to repair parts inventory. Since the company’s inventory of supply parts went down by $2,800, the reduction is reflected with a credit entry to repair parts inventory.

a contingent liability that is reasonably possible should be

By providing for contingent liabilities, it gives an opportunity for businesses to asses and be prepared for the situation. The outcome of a long-pending lawsuit, a government investigation into organizations affairs, a threat of expropriation etc. some of the common examples of contingent liabilities. Under IFRS, if it is probable that a contingent liability will result in a future payment but there is a range of equally likely amounts that will be paid, the midpoint a contingent liability that is reasonably possible should be of the range should be accrued as a loss. Remote losses typically don’t require disclosure in your financial statements. If a loss is reasonably possible, you would add a note about it to the company’s financial statements. The same approach applies when the loss is probable, but it remains impossible to estimate the magnitude with any degree of certainty. If a contingent loss is reasonably possible, the company must disclose it but doesn’t need to record an accrual.

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