Which Canadian Companies Will Be Most Impacted by IFRS 16?

A Ranking of the Leasing Obligations of the TSX 60


Starting on 1 January 2019, companies will begin to adopt the new IFRS 16 lease accounting standard published by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). As one of the biggest accounting changes in history, IFRS 16 will result in listed companies transferring almost $3 trillion worth of liabilities onto corporate balance sheets over the coming years.

Historically, only finance leases – leases that have a similar structure to asset purchases – have been reported as assets and liabilities on corporate balance sheets. Other leases, called operating leases, were “off-balance sheet” and were accounted for using principles similar to service contracts.

IFRS 16 eliminates the operating leases classification. Instead, all leases will be treated as finance leases. The IFRS 16 standard was published in conjunction with the updated US GAAP lease accounting standard, ASC 842, though the standards differ on several key points, including that ASC 842 maintains the dual classification of leases as operating and finance. The IFRS 16 standard still allows short-term (less than or equal to 12 months) and low-value (less than or equal to $5000) leases to still be reported in the footnotes.

In an effort to provide greater transparency, the IASB, which defines standards for international financial reporting, introduced a new set of lease accounting standards. IFRS 16 was first published in January 2016 and will supersede the lease accounting standard, IAS 17, starting in January 2019.

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