Revenue Recognition - Everything You Need to Know
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ASC 606 Revenue Recognition – General Overwiew

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The ASC 606 revenue recognition standard, which is also known as ASC 606 or simply 606, is a set of financial accounting standards issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). It provides guidelines for recognizing revenue from contracts with customers and has been in effect for public companies since December 15, 2017, and for private companies since December 15, 2018.

The ASC 606 revenue recognition standard is a significant departure from the previous revenue recognition standard, based on risks and rewards of ownership. The effective date of the ASC 606 revenue recognition standard has passed, and businesses of all sizes are required to comply with the new set of standards. Companies that still need to implement the standard should take action as soon as possible to ensure compliance and avoid potential penalties and fines.

Want to know more about revenue recognition standards? Let’s have a look at revenue recognition in general, types of revenue recognition, and explore ACS 606 revenue recognition and its significance.

What is revenue recognition?

Revenue recognition is the accounting process of recognizing revenue earned from the sale of goods or services in a company’s financial statements. It is a critical aspect of financial reporting as it affects a company’s financial statements, including the income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.

Revenue is recognized at the time when a company satisfies a performance obligation by transferring control of goods or services to a customer. Control is typically transferred when the customer has the ability to direct the use of and obtain substantially all the remaining benefits from the promised good or service.

Revenue recognition is vital for several reasons. It helps to provide investors and other stakeholders with a clear picture of a company’s financial performance. It can also impact critical financial metrics such as earnings per share, gross margins, and net income.

Check out our article on the differences between net profit and revenue.

The timing and method of recognizing revenue can vary depending on the industry, the nature of the goods or services being sold, and the contract terms. The ASC 606 revenue recognition standard provides guidelines for recognizing revenue from contracts with customers, which helps to provide a more consistent and standardized framework for revenue recognition across different industries and business models.

What are the types of revenue recognition methods?

There are two main types of revenue recognition methods: accrual basis and cash basis.

Accrual basis in accounting

Under the accrual basis of accounting, revenue is recognized at the time when it is earned, regardless of when payment is received. This means that revenue is recognized when the performance obligation is satisfied, which is typically when goods are delivered, or services are rendered to the customer. As a result, accrual basis accounting provides a more accurate representation of a company’s financial performance. It is required by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in the US for most businesses.

Cash basis in accounting

Under the cash basis of accounting, revenue is recognized at the time when payment is received from the customer. This means that revenue is recognized when cash is received rather than when the performance obligation is satisfied. Cash basis accounting is much simpler and easier to use. Still, it may not provide an accurate representation of a company’s financial performance since revenue can be recognized before or after goods are delivered or services are rendered.

Want to know a professional opinion about the differences between accrual and cash-based accounting methods? Read our expert article Accrual Accounting vs Cash Accounting: What Is the Difference Between Accrual and Cash Accounting?

It’s important to note that the ASC 606 revenue recognition standard requires companies to use the accrual basis of accounting for recognizing revenue from contracts with customers, as it provides a more accurate representation of the company’s financial performance.

What is ASC 606 revenue recognition?

ASC 606 (Accounting Standards Codification 606) is a standard for recognizing revenue issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) that provides guidelines for recognizing revenue from contracts with customers. The standard is designed to provide a more comprehensive and consistent framework for revenue recognition across different industries and business models.

Under ASC 606, revenue should be recognized at the time when the control of goods or services is transferred to the customer, as opposed to when risks and rewards of ownership are transferred, which was the basis for revenue recognition under the previous standard. The standard also requires entities to identify performance obligations in a contract, allocate the transaction price to those obligations, and recognize revenue as those obligations are satisfied.

The implementation of ASC 606 has significant impacts on financial reporting for companies, particularly for those with complex contracts or long-term agreements. The new standard requires increased transparency and disclosures related to revenue recognition practices and may also result in changes to the timing and amount of revenue recognized by companies.

ASC 606 for services

The ASC 606 standard for recognizing revenue is particularly relevant for service-based businesses, including professional services firms such as accounting and tax firms, consulting firms, and software development companies. Under the new standard, revenue from services is recognized as performance obligations are satisfied, which may differ from the business’s billing method.

Recognizing revenue for services can be complex, as service contracts may involve multiple performance obligations, each with its own distinct timing and method of recognition. Therefore, it is important for businesses to carefully review their contracts and identify each performance obligation in order to recognize revenue under ASC 606 properly.

Recognizing revenue with recognition software

ASC 606 revenue recognition software can help businesses automate the revenue recognition process, reducing the risk of errors and improving efficiency. These effective professional software solutions can also help businesses with complex contracts management and identify each performance obligation, allocate the transaction price, and recognize revenue as obligations are satisfied.

Need help to make transaction management more effective? Synder Sync allows you to connect all your sales channels and payment platforms in use with your accounting and synchronize transaction data in one source of truth. If you’re a low transaction volume business, you can choose the per transaction data sync mode and enjoy detailed data for each transaction in your books. However, if you’ve got lots of transactions and don’t want to overload your books with unnecessary data, Synder offers a convenient daily summary sync mode that posts one journal entry per day for each connected platform. The tool guarantees stress-free reconciliation without any duplicates. Check out Synder Sync on a free 15-day trial, or book a seat at our weekly webinar for a guided tour with our specialists. Forget about manual data entry and take advantage of smart automation to ease your accounting management! 

What are five steps in ASC 606 revenue recognition?

The five steps in ASC 606 revenue recognition are:

Step 1. Identify the contract.

A contract exists when there is an agreement between two or more parties or entities that creates enforceable rights and obligations. The contract can be written, oral or implied by the parties’ conduct. Thus, during the first step of recognition, you have to identify the contract with a customer.

Step 2. Identify the performance obligations.

The second recognition step requires you to identify the performance obligations between the parties or entities in the contract. Performance obligations under the contract are promises to transfer goods or services to the customer. Each promise should be identified as a separate performance obligation if it is distinct, meaning the customer or entity can benefit from the good or service on its own or with other resources that are readily available.

Step 3. Determine the transaction price.

The purpose of the third step in recognition is to establish the transaction price. The transaction price here means the amount of consideration that a company expects to receive in exchange for transferring goods or services to the customer or entity. The transaction price can include variable considerations such as discounts, rebates, or incentives.

Step 4. Allocate the transaction price.

During the fourth step of recognition, you have to allocate the price to the obligations. The transaction price should be allocated to each performance obligation based on its relative standalone selling price. This means that the transaction price should be allocated to each promise in the contract based on the amount that the customer would pay for that promise on a standalone basis.

Step 5. Recognize revenue.

The purpose of the fifth step is recognition itself. Revenue should be recognized when the company satisfies each performance obligation by transferring control of the promised goods or services to the customer. Control is typically transferred when the customer has the ability to direct the use of and obtain substantially all the remaining benefits from the promised good or service.

It’s important to note that these steps to recognize revenue may require significant judgment and estimation by companies, and may result in changes to the timing and amount of revenue recognized.

Why is ASC 606 essential?

ASC 606 revenue recognition is vital for several reasons:

Standardization

ASC 606 provides a standardized framework for revenue recognition across different industries and business models, which helps to improve comparability and consistency in financial reporting.

Transparency

The new standard of ASC 606 requires increased transparency and disclosures related to revenue recognition practices, which helps to provide investors and other stakeholders with a complete picture of a company’s financial performance.

Accuracy

The standard of ASC 606 requires companies to use the accrual basis of accounting for recognizing revenue from contracts with customers, which provides a more accurate representation of a company’s financial performance.

Compliance

ASC 606 is a requirement for US companies that follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), and failure to comply with any of those requirements can result in penalties and fines.

Business decisions

Accurate and transparent revenue recognition can help businesses make informed decisions about pricing, product mix, and resource allocation, ultimately leading to improved profitability and growth.

Overall, ASC 606 revenue recognition is essential because it helps ensure that revenue is recognized consistently, accurately, and transparently, which is necessary for building trust and confidence in financial reporting.

ASC 606 revenue recognition: Conclusion

ASC 606 revenue recognition is a complex but essential aspect of financial reporting for businesses of all sizes. Companies that have not yet implemented the new standard of ASC 606 should take action as soon as possible to ensure compliance and avoid potential penalties and fines. With careful planning and small investment in the right tools, businesses can successfully navigate the new revenue standard and improve their financial reporting practices.

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