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The new revenue recognition rules: Contractors, are you ready for tax Implications?

05.02.17

The good news? When it comes to revenue recognition, tax law isn’t changing. The bad news? Thanks to new revenue recognition rules, book to tax differences are changing. And because tax prep generally starts with book income, this means that the construction industry, among others, will need to start changing their thinking about tax liability, too.

The goal of the new rules is to establish standards for reporting useful information in financial statements about the nature, amount, timing, and uncertainty of revenue from long-term contracts with customers. The standards aim to clarify the principles for recognizing revenue. You can apply standards consistently across various transactions, industries, and capital markets — in order to improve financial reporting by creating common guidance for U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The core principle is that you should recognize revenue in an amount and at a time that aligns with expectations for the actual amount to be earned when it is actually earned (i.e., when the goods or services are delivered). That’s different from what we do today. Here are some areas affected by the changes:

Uninstalled materials

Under current GAAP, the costs of uninstalled materials, if constructed specifically for the job, are included in the job cost. Under the new GAAP, contractors will recognize the revenue only to the extent of the cost or will capitalize them as inventory—you will recognize profits later. For tax purposes, uninstalled materials are still included in the job cost. You will have to recognize profits for tax purposes sooner than for book purposes.

Multiple performance obligations

Under the new GAAP, you may have to segregate one contract into two or more performance obligations — those revenues are recognized separately. For tax purposes, it is very difficult to segregate a contract (it requires a tax commissioner’s prior written consent) so a contractor might have to show one contract for tax purposes and two or three contracts for book purposes. For example, if you have a contract for a design build project and generally bid separately for the design phase and construction phase of this type of project, you might have to separate this contract into two performance obligations. For tax purposes, you will continue to treat this project as a single contract. These contracts most likely will have different profit margins and you will have to recognize revenue at a different pace.

 Variable consideration

Under current GAAP, contractors can’t recognize revenue on bonus payments until they are realized, usually at the end of the project. Under the new GAAP, contractors need to gauge the probability of the bonus payments’ being received and may have to include some or all of the bonus payments in the contract price — you will have to recognize revenue sooner. For tax purposes, variable considerations are included in the contract price when contractors can reasonably expect to collect them. The general practice is that tax follows what you record for books for the total contract price. Does this mean that you have to recognize revenue for tax purposes sooner, too? Or will it create a book to tax difference, subject to judgement? The IRS may be issuing some guidance on these issues.

Deferred taxes

With changes in book to tax differences due to changes in timing of when you recognize profits, there will also be a change in deferred taxes.

After implementing the new GAAP, you will need to segregate items like variable consideration and uninstalled materials. Even if your tax method doesn’t change, will you need to maintain and provide the information needed for tax return purposes? More companies might ask the IRS for permission to make accounting method changes for federal income tax purposes. The IRS may consider allowing an automatic method change in order to help companies conform more easily to the new standards. The IRS will also provide guidance on how the new revenue recognition rules affect tax reporting.  

Accounting for GAAP purposes isn’t the same thing as accounting for tax purposes. But when it comes to the new revenue recognition rules, things can get complicated. To learn more about accounting method changes you might need to make, get in touch with your BerryDunn team today and see how the rules may affect your company.

Read this if you are an engineering or architecture firm working with government agencies reimbursing overhead established in an overhead rate schedule based on direct labor.

We are approaching the end of 2020 and we still don’t have final and authoritative guidance from the U.S. Department of Treasury and the Office of Management and Budget about how to treat the PPP loan forgiveness. Will the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Part 31.201-5, Credits, apply and drastically diminish overhead rates for 2020? Will any credit follow the timing of legal forgiveness? Will you be required to offset subsequent forgiveness against 2020 expenses? 

The lobbyists are hard at work fighting any offset. Will they gain legislative support or will a compromise be negotiated? In the face of so many unknowns, we encourage companies to plan for potential outcomes of this unique situation in order to avoid unwanted surprises in the years to come. What can be done now? Let’s first explore trends we’ve observed for A/E firms for this year:

  • Certain costs, such as travel, meals, seminars and overall office expenses, are lower in 2020 with many employees working from home. 
  • Employees are traveling less and are not participating in networking events; they are focusing more of their time on chargeable work. As a result, utilization rates are higher in 2020 compared to recent years. A 1% change in utilization generally results in an approximate 4% directional change in overhead rate. 

These lower spending, higher chargeability trends are pushing overhead rates down considerably for 2020 and, likely too, for 2021. Depending on the type and the length of projects contracted to include those overhead rates, resulting profitability will also be lower for a few more years when indirect costs increase to normal levels. Proper planning is extremely important in this situation. Here are some questions to ask when considering your options:

  • Are there opportunities to negotiate the project price or terms so project profitability is maintained? Can you negotiate higher labor rates or a fixed overhead rate? 
  • If there isn’t any room for negotiations on projects using actual audited overhead rates, should your company focus business development efforts on bidding on or seeking and forming strategic partnerships to pursue more non-governmental projects? 
  • If the company remains profitable and realizes savings in certain costs this year, can you find ways to spend and increase allowable indirect costs while simultaneously strengthening your company? Can you award higher employee bonuses to boost employee morale and help retain great talent? Or maybe now is the time to ramp up cybersecurity training to strengthen IT controls and employee awareness of how to prevent, detect, and respond to cyber threats or invest in cyber penetration testing. 

Targeted spending on allowable costs will help elevate your overhead rate and help position your company to emerge stronger post-pandemic. If you need any help modeling expected overhead rates or have questions about allowable overhead costs, please contact Estera or Linda. We're here to help. 

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Planning for overhead rate changes: Considerations and strategies

Read this if you are an engineering or architecture firm working with government agencies reimbursing overhead established in an overhead rate schedule based on direct labor.

It seems everyone is both anxious to gain forgiveness of their PPP loans and worried about the ramifications of requesting and being granted forgiveness. There is so much you need to consider to understand the potential impact forgiveness may have on your future cash flow and revenues. Let’s focus, though, on your overhead rate.

Some things to consider:

  • PPP loan forgiveness may significantly reduce your overhead rate. As a result, future contracts and related revenues from federal, state, or local government agencies will be impacted. 

    Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 31.201-5 dictates that the applicable portion of any income, rebate, allowance, or other credit relating to any allowable cost and received by the contractor shall be credited to the government. If the credit will be used to reduce the indirect labor costs and rent, some of the largest costs of A/E firms, the overhead rate might be reduced by as much as 25% to 30%. 
  • Guidance on the timing of credit offset is still unclear.

    Do you offset 2020 expenses for forgiveness not settled until 2021 to better match cash flows and credit expenses relevant to forgiveness? Or reflect the forgiveness in the Schedule during the period forgiveness was formally received?
  • The IRS is currently communicating that the costs incurred to gain PPP loan forgiveness will not be deductible expenses, thus increasing 2020 taxable income.

    If your company is in a taxable position, federal income taxes will increase as a result and impact cash flows. And remember, federal income taxes are unallowable costs in overhead rate schedules under FAR Part 31.201-41.

Depending on the concentration of your contracts with federal agencies, the significance of overhead rate reimbursement on contract revenues and expectations for growth, it may actually be more beneficial to pay the loan back instead of asking for forgiveness.

The Department of Defense (DOD) weighs in:

Often the first agency to establish policy or make changes, the DOD has issued guidance in the form of answers to FAQs about CARES Act impacts on DOD pricing and contracting. Q23 specifically addresses the issue of PPP loan forgiveness. It states, “to the extent that PPP credits are allocable to costs allowable under contract, the Government should receive a credit or a reduction in billing for any PPP loans or loan payments that are forgiven.” You can read that and other CARES Act credit guidance here. Even if you don’t directly work with DoD, other federal agencies and state DOT’s generally adopt DoD’s guidance. 

What if we apply forgiveness credit against direct labor? 

You might wonder, why not just apply the credit against direct and indirect labor in proportion to the actual payroll paid during the PPP loan covered period? If this was possible, the overhead rate might actually increase. Unfortunately, billing the government for direct labor costs offset on the overhead rate schedule with the credit of PPP loan forgiveness would violate FAR Part 31 cost principles. Since you can’t bill for credited costs, revenues for contracts with government agencies would be further reduced. 

We advise a wait and see approach.

The best action plan to do right now is to wait for better and clearer guidance. Industry associations such as ACEC are advocating for more favorable PPP loan forgiveness treatment. Furthermore, there are still quite a few unanswered questions by the SBA. 

If you have any questions related to your overhead rate and the impact of PPP loan forgiveness on your revenue from contracts with government agencies, please contact us. We’re here to help. 


 

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PPP loan forgiveness will likely impact your overhead rate!

We have talked about the two recent GAAP updates for years now: 1) changes to the lease accounting and 2) changes to revenue recognition standards. We have speculated what the outcomes are going to be and how they will affect the financial statements, requirements for certain ratio calculations and the like, and finally we have some answers! Both standards were finalized and published, and will be in effect in 2019 and 2020. The new rules for both require more than a couple of hours of reading and can be very confusing.

Two questions we have heard recently: Are the changes intertwined? And do we now need to consider the new revenue recognition standard when we implement the new lease accounting? The answer is a resounding NO!

The new GAAP for revenue recognition is very clear about this: it specifically carves out lease contracts. As a matter of fact, accounting applied by lessors will not change significantly when the new lease rules come into effect. If you are a lessor, you will continue to classify the majority of operating leases as operating leases, and will recognize lease income for those leases on a straight-line basis over the term of the lease. However, if you find the new rules confusing, your BerryDunn team is standing by to help you get the answers you need.

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New lease and revenue recognition rules: Mutually exclusive