When co-ops acquire new long-term debt, they often incur costs in conjunction with the process. These costs are commonly known as debt issuance costs. Such costs of obtaining financing – such as bank fees, accounting fees to prepare prospective presentations, and legal fees to draft the necessary documents – should not be expensed. In the past, these costs have usually been capitalized as an asset account called debt issuance costs (also sometimes called financing costs, loan costs, prepaid finance charges, or prepaid loan fees) and then amortized over the term of the loan through an income statement account called amortization expense.
A recent update to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles has modified the accounting treatment of such costs.
For all businesses whose years begin after 12/15/15 (essentially, starting with the financial statements of 2016 calendar year ends), debt issuance costs are to be presented as a contra-liability account rather than as an asset.
Additionally, amortization of these costs should now be recorded as interest expense. Going forward the phrase “amortization expense” is only to be used for amortization of intangible assets such as goodwill, licenses, and trademarks. The debt issuance costs should be amortized over the length of the underlying loan. The calculation of the costs expensed to interest should follow the “effective rate of interest” method. In practice, amortization of loan costs using the straight-line method is acceptable if the results are not materially different from the “effective rate” method.
This accounting change must also be presented retroactively for prior periods in comparative financial statements.