Revenue Recognition According to IFRS 15 and TOPIC 606

Betina Victoria Thane

Student thesis: Master thesis


Revenue is an important indicator in assessing an entity’s financial performance and position. Users of the financial statements will therefore focus on revenue and the given information thereon in the entity’s financial statements. Revenue has always included significant judgements and for most entities it consists of many transactions. Therefore it is important for investors to obtain an understanding of how revenue is recognized so it is possible to make a comparison of two entities and their operations. The increase in economic globalization has led to an increase in investments across borders and therefore it has become increasingly relevant to make such a comparison across jurisdictions and capital markets. In May 2014 the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) issued new standards for revenue recognition – Revenue from Contracts with Customers – respectively IFRS 15 and TOPIC 606. The objective of the standards is to create a common guidance for revenue recognition since the current standards for revenue recognition are dissimilar. The current differences make it more difficult for users of the financial statements to compare entities that uses IFRS and US GAAP. On this basis, it is interesting to examine if the new standards make it possible to compare revenue from an IFRS entity with an US GAAP entity. The main objective of this thesis is to find out if it is possible for an investor to compare revenue recognized according to IFRS 15 with revenue recognized according to TOPIC 606. To meet this objective, a thorough review of the two standards for revenue recognition will be made. Hereafter, the analysis in the thesis will recognize revenue from sales contracts in accordance with IFRS 15 and TOPIC 606 and based on this, identify the similarities and differences in the two standards. Furthermore, disclosures for both standards will be prepared and analyzed. The conclusion of the analysis demonstrates that revenue recognition in the two new standards are alike in most cases. The difference in revenue occurs when an entity has recognized an impairment loss that is too high. In this case, IFRS requires the entity to reverse the impairment loss whereas this is not permitted in US GAAP. In practice this will, however, not occur that often. If both the IFRS entity and the US GAAP entity are publicly traded, there will be no differences in the disclosures. However, if the US GAAP entity is a Nonpublic entity it may elect not to provide all of the required disclosures which will make it less possible to analyze and therefore more difficult to make a comparison. Based on the analysis it is possible, with few differences, to compare revenue recognized in accordance with IFRS 15 to revenue recognized in accordance with TOPIC 606.

EducationsMSc in Auditing, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages83