What are Prior Period Adjustments?
Prior period adjustments are adjustments made to periods that are not current period, but already accounted for because there is a lot of metrics where accounting uses approximation and approximation might not always be an exact amount and hence they have to be adjusted often to make sure all the other principles stay intact.
Prior Period Adjustments are done in the financial statements to correct the incomes or expenses arisen in the current year as a result of omissions or errors in the preparation of financial statements of one or more periods in the past.
- These adjustments are also used in the case of “Realisation of an Income Tax Benefit” arising from the operating losses of a purchased subsidiary (before they were acquired). Although it is clearly defined and rare, a prior period adjustment is basically implied in the above-mentioned scenario.
- The term doesn’t include any other adjustments which have been necessitated by the circumstances, that are linked to prior periods adjustments but are determined in the current period, for example, arrears payable to employees as a revision in their salaries with retrospective effect during the current year.
Errors in the preparation of financial statements could be caused due to the following reasons:
- Mathematical mistakes
- Mistakes in applying accounting policies
- Misinterpretation of facts and figures
- Failure to accrue or defer certain expenses or revenues
- Fraud or misuse of facts existed at the time, financial statements were prepared
Examples of Prior Period Adjustments/Errors
Following are few examples of Prior Period Errors/adjustments along with their Adjustment entry to rectify it-
MSA Company, in the year 2017 incorrectly charged furniture and fixtures for advertisement expenses amounting to Rs. 50,000. The error was identified in the year 2018. The journal entries passed to correct the same will be
It is a misclassification error.
In the year 2017, ABC Company did not accrue the telephone expenses, which was paid at the beginning of 2018. The correcting for the same would be
In the above error, the expenses were not accrued.
Example – Stein Mart, Inc
- Previous years financial statements of Stein Mart contained errors made in inventory markdowns, leasehold improvement costs, compensated absences (paid vacation) etc.
- Therefore Stein Mart restated its annual report on 10K in based on the recommendation of the audit committee and in consultation with the management.
In the Financial Year 2018, XYZ limited while preparing the statements got to know that they have committed a mistake to account for the depreciation in respect of an office building that was acquired in the preceding year. There was an error in calculating the depreciation and they have short charged the depreciation by Rs.50,00,000/- in the books of accounts. Assuming this error to be material, the company has decided to incorporate required prior period adjustments.
Before that let’s understand the implication of short charging the depreciation: –
- Net Income got to be on the higher side since the operating costs were computed on a lower side.
- Assuming that the company pays dividends from its retained earnings, it has also affected the Dividends.
- It will affect the tax obligations of the company, as the profits tend to go up.
The rectification for the error would be done by passing the following entry in the opening balance of retained earnings:
Following changes will result in the disclosure by the adjustments in the opening balance of Retained Earnings: –
An entity shall correct material prior period adjustments/errors retrospectively in the first set of financial statements approved for issue after their discovery either by the following ways:
- Restating the comparative amounts for the prior period(s) in which the error occurred
- If the error occurred before the earliest prior period presented, restating the opening balances of assets, liabilities, and equity for the earliest prior period presented
Provided that, the prior period error/adjustment shall be corrected by retrospective restatement except to the extent that it is impractical to determine either the period-specific effects or the cumulative effect of the error. Only where it is impractical to determine the cumulative effect of an error, only then prior periods error can be rectified by the entity prospectively.
In disclosing so, the entity should mention the following: –
- The nature of the prior period error
- For each prior presented, to the extent practicable, the amount of correction:
- For each financial statement line item
- For each prior period presented, to the extent practicable
- The amount of the correction at the beginning of the earliest prior period
- If retrospective restatement is impracticable for a particular prior period, the circumstances that led to the existence of that condition and a description of how and from when the error has been corrected.
- Financial statements of subsequent periods need not repeat these
Stakeholders of the company tend to view the Prior Period error and adjustments in a negative notion, assuming that there was a failure in the company’s system of accountancy and doubt the competency of its auditors. Although, it is best to avoid such adjustments when the amount of prospective change is immaterial to portray a fair view of a company’s performance and its financial position.
This has been a guide to what are Prior Period Adjustments. Here we discuss the Prior Period error adjustments examples and practical case studies including the disclosures required for such errors.