Navigating GASB 96: Lease Accounting Software for Accountants

Key Takeaways

  • GASB 96 sets the standard for lease accounting in the public sector, aimed at increasing financial transparency, consistency, and accountability in reporting.
  • Netgain’s software facilitates GASB 96 compliance by offering tools for lease compliance, asset management, and financial closing, enhancing accuracy and efficiency in financial management.
  • Effective GASB 96 compliance hinges on understanding the guidelines, accurate lease data, robust documentation, and internal controls, complemented by strategic planning and the right software solutions.

In fiscal governance, GASB 96 stands as a testament to the evolving landscape of lease accounting, demanding a strategic pivot for the adept accountant. In this article, we will provide you with comprehensive insights into key considerations, best practices, and important features to consider when it comes to GASB 96 compliance and lease accounting software. Prepare to enrich your expertise and harness the power of automation to meet and exceed the benchmarks of compliance.

Netgain simplifies, standardizes, and automates financial and accounting challenges. Our apps empower smart accountants to streamline lease compliance, automate fixed assets management, optimize loan tracking, and efficiently close the books. Discover a more efficient financial future with Netgain.

What Is GASB 96?

GASB 96, short for Governmental Accounting Standards Board Statement No. 96, is a set of accounting guidelines and standards that specifically pertain to lease accounting within the public sector.1 These standards were introduced to enhance transparency, accuracy, and consistency in financial reporting, particularly for organizations and entities that operate within the realm of governmental accounting.

The standard specifically contains guidelines for Subscription-Based Technology Arrangements (SBITAs). These are subscription cloud services used by government entities, and they follow guidelines similar to GASB 87. GASB 96 contains requirements for disclosures and capitalization. For example, fixed payments and set-up costs should be capitalized throughout the time that the lease payments are made.4

What Is GASB 96?

How Does GASB 96 Operate?

GASB 96 operates by providing a structured framework for lease accounting within the public sector. It outlines the key principles and procedures that organizations must follow when dealing with lease agreements. The core mechanisms of GASB 96 include defining lease agreements, classifying leases, and establishing reporting requirements. GASB 96 mandates that lessees and lessors in the public sector account for their leases in accordance with the specified guidelines. 

What Are The Benefits Of GASB 96?

The adoption of GASB 96 offers several benefits to organizations in the public sector. These advantages include:

Enhanced Transparency

GASB 96 promotes greater transparency in financial reporting by requiring detailed disclosures about lease transactions. This transparency benefits stakeholders and investors who rely on accurate financial statements.

Consistency

Standardizing lease accounting practices across the public sector ensures consistency in financial reporting, making it easier to compare the financial performance of different organizations.

Improved Accountability

By specifying principles and procedures for lease accounting, GASB 96 helps organizations maintain a high level of accountability in their financial reporting, reducing the risk of misstatements or errors.

Accurate Financial Statements

Compliance with GASB 96 ensures that financial statements accurately reflect the financial implications of lease agreements, providing a clearer picture of an organization's financial health.

Regulatory Compliance

Adhering to GASB 96 is essential for complying with government accounting standards and regulatory requirements, helping organizations avoid legal and financial penalties.

Key Considerations For GASB 96 Compliance

Achieving compliance with GASB (Governmental Accounting Standards Board) Statement No. 96 is crucial for government entities. GASB 96 provides guidance on reporting subscription-based IT arrangements. To ensure success in achieving GASB 96 compliance, several fundamental considerations are important:

Understand the GASB 96 Guidelines

GASB 96 lays out the principles for lease accounting within the public sector. It's imperative to gain a comprehensive understanding of these guidelines, as they form the foundation of your compliance obligations.

Identify Lease Agreements

To ensure compliance, you must identify all lease agreements within your organization. This involves a comprehensive review of your lease portfolio, including both lessee and lessor arrangements.

Data Collection and Assessment

Developing a robust data collection and assessment process is key to successfully navigating GASB 96 compliance. This process should encompass tracking and evaluating all lease agreements, including their terms and financial implications.

Reporting Requirements

GASB 96 outlines specific reporting requirements that you must adhere to. Stay informed about the latest reporting standards and ensure your organization can meet these obligations. Precise reporting is fundamental to compliance.

Software Compatibility

Selecting the right lease accounting software is paramount. Your chosen software must be fully compatible with GASB 96 compliance standards, allowing you to efficiently and accurately manage your lease portfolio.

Important Features To Look For In A GASB 96 Lease Accounting Software

When searching for the perfect lease accounting software, you should consider a range of important features. Here, we dive deeper into these features to provide you with a more comprehensive understanding:

GASB 96 Compliance Modules

Look for software that provides dedicated modules for GASB 96 compliance. These modules should offer specific functionalities designed to meet the requirements outlined in GASB 96.

Advanced Reporting Capabilities

Robust reporting capabilities are a must for generating the required financial statements and disclosures.2 Your software should offer a wide range of reporting options, allowing you to customize reports to meet your organization's specific needs.

Lease Management Tools

Efficiently managing your lease portfolio is a critical aspect of compliance. Your chosen software should facilitate the tracking of leases, lease renewals, terminations, and other essential tasks. An effective lease management system streamlines your operations.

Data Security Measures

The security of your lease data is of paramount importance. Ensure your chosen software offers advanced security measures, such as encryption, access controls, and data backup protocols. Your sensitive financial data should be protected at all times.

Scalability

Consider the scalability of the software. Your organization may grow and change over time, so it's essential to choose software that can adapt and expand as your needs evolve. Scalability ensures that your investment remains valuable in the long run. Scalability

Best Practices For GASB 96 Compliance

To ensure a smooth and successful journey towards GASB 96 compliance, consider implementing the following best practices:

  • Lease Data Accuracy: The accuracy of your lease data is paramount to compliance. Ensure that all lease data is recorded accurately and maintained meticulously to facilitate precise reporting and adherence to GASB 96 requirements.
  • Comprehensive Documentation: Thoroughly document all lease agreements, transactions, and any modifications. Documenting your lease portfolio is essential for complete transparency and for demonstrating compliance during audits.
  • Implement An Audit Trail: Implementing an audit trail system can help you monitor changes to lease agreements, ensuring data integrity and accountability within your organization. This is particularly important in a compliance-driven environment.
  • Strengthen Internal Controls: Establish robust internal controls to minimize the risk of errors, misstatements, or non-compliance. Strong internal controls provide a safety net that ensures your organization's financial data remains accurate and reliable.

Tips For Preparing Your Organization For GASB 96 Compliance

Preparing your organization for GASB 96 compliance is a multifaceted process that requires careful planning and execution. Here are more detailed tips for each step:

  • Early Assessment And Planning: Begin your compliance journey well in advance, allowing ample time for adjustments and implementation. Early planning ensures a smoother transition to GASB 96 compliance.
  • Stakeholder Communication: Effective communication is vital. Clearly communicate the importance of GASB 96 compliance to all relevant stakeholders within your organization. This ensures everyone is on board and understands their roles in the compliance process.
  • Data Migration And Integration: When transitioning to a new lease accounting software, ensure that data migration is seamless. Your software should support the smooth transfer of lease data from your old system to the new one. Integration with existing financial tools is also essential for streamlined operations.
  • Ongoing Monitoring And Adjustments: The journey to GASB 96 compliance doesn't end with implementation. Continuous monitoring of your compliance efforts is necessary. Regularly assess your processes, software performance, and data accuracy to make necessary adjustments and refinements.
  • External Expertise And Support: Consider seeking external expertise and support to guide you through the compliance process. Experienced consultants or support from your software vendor can be invaluable in ensuring a seamless transition and ongoing compliance.

Tips For Choosing The Best Lease Accounting Software For GASB 96

Choosing the right lease accounting software can be a daunting task, but with these detailed tips, you can make an informed decision that best suits your organization's needs:

  • Assess Your Needs Thoroughly: Begin by conducting an in-depth assessment of your organization's specific requirements. Each organization is unique, so it's essential to choose software that aligns perfectly with your particular needs.
  • User-Friendly Interface: Opt for software with an intuitive and user-friendly interface. A user-friendly platform streamlines your daily operations, enhances productivity, and minimizes the learning curve for your team.
  • Integration Capabilities: Consider software that seamlessly integrates with your existing financial systems. This integration ensures that data flows smoothly between your various financial tools, reducing the risk of errors and improving efficiency.
  • Compliance Features: When evaluating lease accounting software, ensure it offers dedicated GASB 96 compliance features and tools. These features should assist you in meeting the specific requirements of GASB 96 with ease.
  • Vendor Reputation: Research the reputation of the software vendor thoroughly. Look for customer reviews, testimonials, and case studies to gain insights into their track record of providing reliable lease accounting software. A reputable vendor can significantly impact your software's quality and support.

Final Thoughts On GASB 96

GASB 96 is an essential accounting software topic for governmental entities that engage in lease transactions. Its guidelines and standards provide a framework for transparent and accurate lease accounting, ensuring compliance, consistency, and enhanced decision-making. By adhering to GASB 96, organizations can streamline their lease accounting processes and improve financial reporting.

At Netgain, we understand the importance of complying with GASB 96 and other accounting standards. That's why we develop reliable and user-friendly software solutions that simplify, standardize, and automate compliance in finance and accounting. Our products emphasize controls and auditability, empowering governmental entities to navigate the complexities of lease accounting with ease. 

Unlock the full potential of your technical accounting with Netgain and see firsthand why our customers are so satisfied. Don't let complexity slow you down—embrace simplicity and efficiency today. Reach out to us and talk to an expert, or watch our demo now to see the Netgain difference in action. Your journey to streamlined accounting solutions is just one step away!

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Frequently Asked Questions About GASB 96

How do I know if a lease agreement falls under GASB 96?

Lease agreements that fall under GASB 96 are those that meet specific criteria outlined in the statement. These criteria include leases with terms exceeding one year and lease agreements involving lessees and lessors in the public sector. It's important to thoroughly review lease agreements to determine their applicability to GASB 96 compliance.

Can I achieve GASB 96 compliance without specialized software?

While it is possible to manually track lease agreements and achieve compliance, specialized lease accounting software greatly simplifies the process. This software is designed to assist organizations in efficiently managing lease data, automating calculations, and generating required financial disclosures. While manual compliance is feasible, software significantly reduces the margin for error and saves valuable time and resources.

What penalties can result from non-compliance with GASB 96?

Non-compliance with GASB 96 can lead to various penalties and consequences. These can include financial misstatements, legal issues, audits, and reputational damage. Failure to adhere to GASB 96 standards can undermine an organization's financial credibility and integrity. It's essential to avoid such penalties by adhering to the standards and striving for full compliance.

How often should I update my lease accounting software for GASB 96 compliance?

Regularly updating your lease accounting software is essential to ensure that it remains in line with the latest GASB 96 standards and requirements. GASB standards may evolve over time, and software updates often include changes to ensure continued compliance. Staying current with software updates and new releases ensures that your organization remains in compliance with the most recent regulations and guidelines.

What entities are affected by GASB 96?

GASB 96 applies to governmental entities, including state and local governments, special purpose governments, and other governmental organizations. It specifically focuses on lease accounting within the public sector.

Does GASB 96 apply to all types of leases?

Yes, GASB 96 applies to all types of leases, including finance leases and operating leases. The classification criteria outlined in GASB 96 should be used to determine how leases are recognized, measured, and presented in financial statements.

Do small governmental entities have to comply with GASB 96?

Yes, GASB 96 applies to both large and small governmental entities. The size of an entity does not exempt it from complying with the lease accounting standards set forth by GASB.

Can I continue to use spreadsheets to comply with GASB 96?

While spreadsheets can be used as part of the lease accounting process, they may not provide the level of automation and accuracy necessary for seamless compliance with GASB 96. Utilizing dedicated lease accounting software specifically designed for GASB 96 compliance is recommended.

Can GASB 96 requirements be applied retrospectively?

Yes, GASB 96 allows for the retrospective application of its requirements. Entities have the option to apply the statement to leases existing at the beginning of the implementation period, as if GASB 96 had been in effect at the inception of those leases.

Can I outsource my lease accounting to a third-party provider for GASB 96 compliance?

Yes, outsourcing lease accounting to a third-party provider that specializes in governmental accounting, including compliance with GASB standards, can be a viable option. However, it is important to ensure that the provider has a thorough understanding of GASB 96 requirements and can effectively handle your organization's specific needs.

Sources:

  • ROYBARK, H. M., COFFMAN, E. N., & PREVITS, G. J. (2012). The First Quarter Century of the GASB (1984-2009): A Perspective on Standard Setting (Part Two). Abacus, 48(2), 147–198. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6281.2012.00360.x
  • Ball, R. (2001). Infrastructure Requirements for an Economically Efficient System of Public Financial Reporting and Disclosure. Brookings-Wharton Papers on Financial Services, 2001(1), 127–169. https://muse.jhu.edu/pub/11/article/26629/summary
  • Chapter 4: Governmental Accounting. (2019). Ed.gov; National Center for Education Statistics. https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2004/h2r2/ch_4.asp
  • LeaseCrunch (2023). GASB 96: Understanding SBITA in 2023. https://www.leasecrunch.com/blog/gasb-96-understanding-sbita#:~:text=GASB%2096%20is%20a%20statement,with%20governments%20and%20government%20entities.

 

About the Author

Tanner Larsen

Tanner Larsen

Tanner Larsen, CPA, is an Account Executive at Netgain. After completing a Masters in Accountancy and a Minor in Information Systems, Tanner began his career at Tanner LLC, which he is quick to clarify that the firm wasn’t founded by him but is an Accounting and Advisory Firm with two offices in Utah. After Tanner LLC, Tanner worked with Ernst and Young in their audit practice working primarily with private technology clients in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Having assisted companies in meeting financial reporting requirements, Tanner loves helping accounting and finance teams further leverage technology to improve their financial reporting and make their lives easier.


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