Overview of Ind AS 38, Intangible Assets

Indian Accounting Standard (Ind AS 38), Intangible Assets

The objective of Ind AS 38 is to prescribe the accounting treatment for intangible assets that are not dealt with specifically in another Standard. This Standard requires an entity to recognise an intangible asset if, and only if, specified criteria are met. The Standard also specifies how to measure the carrying amount of intangible assets and requires specified disclosures about intangible assets.

Intangible assets meeting the relevant recognition criteria are initially measured at cost, subsequently measured at cost or using the revaluation model, and amortised on a systematic basis over their useful lives (unless the asset has an indefinite useful life, in which case it is not amortised).

An intangible asset is an identifiable (either being separable or arising from contractual or other legal rights), non-monetary asset without physical substance.

Intangible assets can be acquired:

  • by separate purchase as part of a business combination;
  • by a government grant;
  • by exchange of assets; and
  • by self-creation (internal generation).

An intangible asset shall be recognised only if:

(a) it is probable that the expected future economic benefits that are attributable to the asset will flow to the entity; and

(b) the cost of the asset can be measured reliably.

An entity shall assess the probability of expected future economic benefits using reasonable and supportable assumptions that represent management’s best estimate of the set of economic conditions that will exist over the useful life of the asset.

An intangible asset shall be measured initially at cost.

Separately acquired intangible assets

The cost of a separately acquired intangible asset comprises:

(a) its purchase price, including import duties and non-refundable purchase taxes, after deducting trade discounts and rebates; and

(b) any directly attributable cost of preparing the asset for its intended use.

As per Ind AS 103, Business Combinations, if an intangible asset is acquired in a business combination, the cost of that intangible asset is its fair value at the acquisition date. If an asset acquired in a business combination is separable or arises from contractual or other legal rights, sufficient information would exist to measure reliably the fair value of the asset.

In accordance with this Standard and Ind AS 103, an acquirer recognises at the acquisition date, separately from goodwill, an intangible asset of the acquiree, if it meets the definition and recognition criteria for an intangible asset irrespective of whether the asset had been recognised by the acquiree before the business combination. This means that the acquirer recognises as an asset in-process research and development project of the acquiree if the project meets the definition of an intangible asset.

Internally generated goodwill shall not be recognised as an asset.

Research phase

Intangible asset arising from research (or from the research phase of an internal project) shall not be recognised. Expenditure on research (or on the research phase of an internal project) shall be recognised as an expense when it is incurred.

Development phase

An intangible asset arising from development (or from the development phase of an internal project) shall be recognised only if, an entity can demonstrate all of the following:

(a) the technical feasibility of completing the intangible asset so that it will be available for use or sale.

(b) its intention to complete the intangible asset and use or sell it.

(c) its ability to use or sell the intangible asset.

(d) how the intangible asset will generate probable future economic benefits. Among other things, the entity can demonstrate the existence of a market for the output of the intangible asset or the intangible asset itself or, if it is to be used internally, the usefulness of the intangible asset.

(e) the availability of adequate technical, financial and other resources to complete the development and to use or sell the intangible asset.

(f) its ability to measure reliably the expenditure attributable to the intangible asset during its development.

Internally generated brands, mastheads, publishing titles, customer lists and items similar in substance shall not be recognised as intangible assets.

The cost of an internally generated intangible asset is the sum of expenditure incurred from the date when the intangible asset first meets the recognition criteria and the condition relating to development phase. Ind AS 38 prohibits reinstatement of expenditure previously recognised as an expense.

Recognition of Expenses

Expenditure on an intangible item shall be recognised as an expense when it is incurred unless:

(a) it forms part of the cost of an intangible asset that meets the recognition criteria; or

(b) the item is acquired in a business combination and cannot be recognised as an intangible asset. If this is the case, it forms part of the amount recognised as goodwill at the acquisition date (see Ind AS 103).

Expenditure on an intangible item that was initially recognised as an expense shall not be recognised as part of the cost of an intangible asset at a later date.

Measurement of intangible assets

An entity shall choose either the cost model or the revaluation model as its accounting policy. If an intangible asset is accounted for using the revaluation model, all the other assets in its class shall also be accounted for using the same model, unless there is no active market for those assets.

Cost model

After initial recognition, an intangible asset shall be carried at its cost less any accumulated amortisation and any accumulated impairment losses.

Revaluation model

After initial recognition, an intangible asset shall be carried at a revalued amount, being its fair value at the date of the revaluation less any subsequent accumulated amortisation and any subsequent accumulated impairment losses. For the purpose of revaluations under this Standard, fair value shall be measured by reference to an active market. Revaluations shall be made with such regularity that at the end of the reporting period the carrying amount of the asset does not differ materially from its fair value.

The revaluation model is applied after an asset has been initially recognised at cost. However, if only part of the cost of an intangible asset is recognised as an asset because the asset did not meet the criteria for recognition until part of the way through the process, the revaluation model may be applied to the whole of that asset. Also, the revaluation model may be applied to an intangible asset that was received by way of a Government grant and recognised at a nominal amount.

Treatment of Revaluation Gains and Losses

If an intangible asset’s carrying amount is increased as a result of a revaluation, the increase shall be recognised in other comprehensive income and accumulated in equity under the heading of revaluation surplus. However, the increase should be recognised in profit or loss to the extent that it reverses a revaluation decrease of the same asset previously recognised in profit or loss.

If an intangible asset’s carrying amount is decreased as a result of a revaluation, the decrease should be recognised in profit or loss. However, the decrease should be recognised in other comprehensive income to the extent of any credit balance in the revaluation surplus in respect of that asset.

Useful life

Useful life is:

(a) the period over which an asset is expected to be available for use by an entity; or

(b) the number of production or similar units expected to be obtained from the asset by an entity.

The accounting for an intangible asset is based on its useful life. An intangible asset with a finite useful life is amortised, and an intangible asset with an indefinite useful life is not.

Many factors are considered in determining the useful life of an intangible asset.

Review of Useful Life Assessment

The useful life of an intangible asset that is not being amortised should be reviewed each period to determine whether events and circumstances continue to support an indefinite useful life assessment for that asset. If they do not, the change in the useful life assessment from indefinite to finite should be accounted for as a change in an accounting estimate.

Derecognition

An intangible asset should be derecognised on disposal or when no future economic benefits are expected from its use or disposal.

The gain or loss arising from the derecognition of an intangible asset should be determined as the difference between the net disposal proceeds, if any, and the carrying amount of the asset. It should be recognised in profit or loss when the asset is derecognised (unless Ind AS 116 requires otherwise on a sale and leaseback). Gains should not be classified as revenue.

The disposal of an intangible asset may occur in a variety of ways (e.g. by sale, by entering into a finance lease, or by donation). The date of disposal of an intangible asset is the date that the recipient obtains control of that asset in accordance with the requirements for determining when a performance obligation is satisfied in Ind AS 115, Revenue from Contracts with Customers. Ind AS 116 applies to disposal by a sale and leaseback.

Appendix A of Ind AS 38 provides guidance on whether the web site is an internally generated intangible asset that is subject to the requirements of Ind AS 38; and the appropriate accounting treatment of such expenditure. The Appendix prescribes that an entity’s own web site that arises from development and is for internal or external access is an internally generated intangible asset that is subject to the requirements of Ind AS 38. Any internal expenditure on the development and operation of an entity’s own web site shall be accounted for in accordance with Ind AS 38. The nature of each activity for which expenditure is incurred (eg training employees and maintaining the web site) and the web site’s stage of development or post-development shall be evaluated to determine the appropriate accounting treatment. A web site that is recognised as an intangible asset under this Appendix shall be measured after initial recognition by applying the requirements of Ind AS 38. The best estimate of a web site’s useful life should be short.

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