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FASB Wants Companies to Disclose More About Their Income Taxes

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Dec 1, 2022


The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has proposed a requirement for companies to provide more information on their income taxes, The Wall Street Journal reported.

This is the latest attempt by the board to require more disclosure on taxes, the Journal reported, quoting FASB Chair Richard Jones, who said in a speech in May that it has been “unable to define a clear path forward" for the past six years. But Jones added that "investor input obtained during the agenda consultation process proved critical. We revised the project objective to focus on improving the transparency and usefulness of income tax disclosures. And we established a project scope that primarily focuses on income taxes paid and the rate reconciliation table. In both of these instances, investor feedback from the agenda consultation process put us on the path of what I call 'achievable standard setting'—and by that, I mean projects that fulfill our mission and which can be completed."

Under the new proposal, public companies would have to disclose the amount of cash taxes they pay at least once a year, and provide their total pretax net income for U.S. and foreign operations (but not by country), as well as their tax expense or benefit. In addition, they would have to disclose their effective tax rate, meaning the ratio between their tax expense and their pretax income.

In 2016, the FASB proposed requiring companies to distinguish their U.S. income taxes from their foreign ones, among other changes. Three years later, it updated that proposal to require the breaking out of the amount of federal, state and foreign taxes public companies paid, and disclosing on a quarterly basis.

Several companies have indicated their opposition to the FASB’s plan to require them to share a detailed breakdown of taxes across jurisdictions, according to the Journal. Two large companies already voiced opposition to an increased disclosure requirement last year.

Existing disclosure requirements on pretax book income and current tax expenses “provide sufficient detail for an investor to understand a company’s tax profile,” Mary-Lee Stillwell, vice president of accounting and external reporting for Verizon Communications, wrote in a letter to the FASB. 

Pfizer Inc. has argued that additional disclosure on income taxes would lead to more confusion among investors. “Taxes within global companies are extremely complex due to the number of jurisdictions and local laws, regulations and interpretations, varying tax rates and the tax systems that are involved,” Controller Jennifer Damico also wrote in a letter to the FASB.

The FASB expects to issue a formal proposal by late March, followed by a 75-day comment period, a spokeswoman told the Journal.