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The Daily

Space: Accounting's Final Frontier?

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jun 17, 2016
Photo provided by NASADoes accounting work different in zero gravity? Maybe not, but an editorial in Accounting Today asks us to consider how our assumptions within financial statement accounting might differ when we leave the confines of planet Earth. For example, asks the author, if an entity engages in commercial activities in outer space, to whom does it pay taxes? (probably whichever country the entity's registered in, as well as the country that hosted the rocket launch, if it's different than the first country--though so far no tax authorities have weighed in on this question officially.)

We thought a little bit about this, and some other thorny questions that could come up as we begin our glorious future as a space-faring species could include: 

* If your company's headquarters exists in high Earth orbit, does this create nexus along whichever latitudinal line it happens to occupy? 

* A lot of standards and regulations rely on the timing of a transaction, but is that timing relative to the Earth or in space? Also, how is relativity-induced time dilation taken into account? 

* Can one travel along the international date line to delay or move ahead of an effective date for a standard or regulation? 

While large-scale space travel is still some ways away, it's perhaps comforting to know that thorny accounting questions are universal.