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Going Concern Assumption Accounting Definition + Examples

1.Companies during the formation years will be purchasing fixed assets that will be requiring expenditure upfront, but such assets will be providing the benefits spread over a long term, that is well beyond one accounting period. Therefore, the going concern concept provides a way to record the value of such assets. Going concern concept is one of the accounting principles that states that a business entity will continue running its operations in the foreseeable future and will not be liquidated or forced to discontinue operations for any reason.

But the term is rarely brought up unless a company is in trouble — that is, in cases where it has doubts it could continue as a going concern. When a company publicly uses the term “going concern,” which a lot more are doing these days, it’s almost always bad news. A going concern is often good as it means a company is more likely than not to survive for the next year. When a company does not meet the going concern criteria, it means that a company may not have the resources needed to operate over the next 12 months. There are also a number of quantifiable, measurable indicators that auditors use to measure going concern. Companies with low liquidity ratios, high employee turnover, or decreasing market share are more likely to not be a going concern.

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Conversely, this means the entity will not be forced to halt operations and liquidate its assets in the near term at what may be very low fire-sale prices. By making this assumption, the accountant is justified in deferring the recognition of certain expenses until a later period, when the entity will presumably still be in business and using its assets in the most effective manner possible. In the case there is substantial yet unreported doubt about the company’s continuance after the date of reporting (i.e. twelve months), then management has failed its fiduciary duty to its stakeholders and has violated its reporting requirements. Most troubling is that auditors might fail to issue a negative going concern opinion because of the lack of auditor independence.

Unlike IFRS Standards, the going concern assessment is performed for a finite period of 12 months from the date the financial statements are issued (or available to be issued for nonpublic entities). Known or knowable events beyond the look-forward period can be ignored in the going concern assessment, although disclosure of their potential effects may still be required by other standards. Under Step 1, management determines whether events and conditions raise substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern.

  • A company or investor that is acquiring a company may compare that company’s going-concern value to its liquidation value in order to decide whether it’s financially worthwhile to continue operating the company, or whether it is more profitable to liquidate it.
  • It is the responsibility of the business owner or leadership team to determine whether the business is able to continue in the foreseeable future.
  • By making this assumption, the accountant is justified in deferring the recognition of certain expenses until a later period, when the entity will presumably still be in business and using its assets in the most effective manner possible.
  • The concept of depreciation and amortization are based on the assumption that a business will continue to perform its operations in the near future (this period is the next 12 months after an accounting period).
  • There are also a number of quantifiable, measurable indicators that auditors use to measure going concern.
  • If a company receives a negative audit and may not be a going concern, there are several implications.

Management should continually evaluate the effects of COVID-19 on the company’s going concern assessment, including information obtained after the reporting date and up to the date the financial statements are authorized for issuance. The going concern concept is a key assumption under generally accepted accounting principles, or GAAP. It can determine how financial statements are prepared, influence the stock price of a publicly traded company and affect whether a business can be approved for a loan. In our experience, if there are such material uncertainties, then the company usually provides disclosure as part of the basis of preparation note in the financial statements.

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The following table summarizes the five key areas of the going concern assessment that we believe are most important for management. Management’s assessment of going concern is in the spotlight because of COVID-19 and uncertainties involved. KPMG has market-leading alliances with many of the world’s leading software and services vendors.

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For example, a company may have a profitable track record or prior success at refinancing. However, market conditions have changed as a result of COVID-19 – e.g. financing may be significantly more difficult and more costly to obtain now. When management becomes aware of material uncertainties related to events or conditions that may cast significant doubt on the company’s ability to continue as a going concern, those uncertainties must be disclosed in the financial statements. The terms ‘material uncertainties’ and ‘significant doubt’ are important – this standard phrasing is expected to be used in the basis of preparation note to the financial statements.

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Further, other actions such as deferring capital expenditures or adjusting the workforce may be needed to generate enough cash flow to meet the company’s financial obligations. It is the responsibility of the business owner or leadership team to determine whether the business is able to continue in the foreseeable future. If it’s determined that the business is stable, financial statements are prepared using the going concern basis of accounting. Because the US GAAP guidance is more developed in this area, it may provide certain useful reference points for IFRS Standards preparers – e.g. to identify adverse conditions and events or to assess the mitigating effects of management’s plans. However, dual reporters should be mindful of the differing frameworks, terminologies and potentially different outcomes in their going concern conclusions. Our IFRS Standards resources will help you to better understand the potential accounting and disclosure implications of COVID-19 for your company, and the actions management can take now.

Unlike IFRS Standards, if substantial doubt is raised in Step 1 about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern, the extent of disclosure depends on the outcome of Step 2 and whether that doubt is alleviated by management’s plans. A going concern is an accounting term for a business that is assumed will meet its financial obligations when they become due. how to analyze a real estate investment It functions without the threat of liquidation for the foreseeable future, which is usually regarded as at least the next 12 months or the specified accounting period (the longer of the two). Hence, a declaration of going concern means that the business has neither the intention nor the need to liquidate or to materially curtail the scale of its operations.

What is the role of a financial auditor?

If a company is not a going concern, that means there is risk the company may not survive the next 12 months. Management is required to disclose this fact and must provide the reasons why they may not be a going concern. Management must also identify the basis in which the financial statements are prepared and often disclose these financial reports with an audit report with a going concern opinion. The leadership team or the business owners determines if the company is able to continue its operations in the future or not. Upon determining the stability of the company, the firm then applies the going concern basis of accounting to prepare its financial statements. Under IFRS Standards, financial statements are prepared on a going concern basis, unless management intends or has no realistic alternative other than to liquidate the company or stop trading.

IAS 1 states that management may need to consider a wide range of factors, including current and forecasted profitability, debt maturities and replacement financing options before satisfying its going concern assessment. Management assesses all available information about the future for at least, but not limited to, 12 months from the reporting date. This means the 12-month period is a minimum and management needs to exercise judgment to determine the appropriate look-forward period under the circumstances. Factors to consider include when the financial statements are authorized for issuance and whether there is any known event occurring after the minimum period of 12 months from the reporting date relevant to the analysis.

Red Flags Indicating a Business Is Not a Going Concern

If a company’s liquidation value – how much its assets can be sold for and converted into cash – exceeds its going concern value, it’s in the best interests of its stakeholders for the company to proceed with the liquidation. The valuation of companies in need of restructuring values a company as a collection of assets, which serves as the basis of the liquidation value. Often, management will be incentivized to downplay the risks and focus on its plans to mitigate the conditional events – which is understandable given their duties to uphold the valuation (i.e. share price) of the company – yet the facts must still be disclosed. More specifically, companies are obligated to disclose the risks and potential events that could impede their ability to operate and cause them to undergo liquidation (i.e. be forced out of business).

Usually, liquidation value is applied when investors feel a company no longer has value as a going concern, and they want to know how much they can get by selling off the company’s tangible assets and such of its intangible assets as can be sold, such as IP. A company or investor that is acquiring a company may compare that company’s going-concern value to its liquidation value in order to decide whether it’s financially worthwhile to continue operating the company, or whether it is more profitable to liquidate it. The going-concern value of a company is typically much higher than its liquidation value because it includes intangible assets and customer loyalty as well as any potential for future returns.

The company posted a pretax loss for the year ended June 30 of 4.4 million pounds ($5.4 million) compared with a profit of GBP10.9 million for the same period a year earlier. Harold Averkamp (CPA, MBA) has worked as a university accounting instructor, accountant, and consultant for more than 25 years. The formal definition of the term “going concern” per GAAP / FASB can be found below. Some or all of the services described herein may not be permissible for KPMG audit clients and their affiliates or related entities. While US GAAP has extensive guidance around going concern, IFRS Standards do not.

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