This Standard addresses the accounting for government grants and the disclosure of government grants and other forms of government assistance. The Standard applies only to for-profit entities.
This compiled Standard applies to annual periods beginning on or after 1 July 2021. Earlier application is permitted for annual periods beginning after 24 July 2014 but before 1 July 2021. It incorporates relevant amendments made up to and including 6 March 2020.
Prepared on 21 July 2021 by the staff of the Australian Accounting Standards Board.
Compilation no. 1
Compilation date: 30 June 2021
Obtaining copies of Accounting Standards
Compiled versions of Standards, original Standards and amending Standards (see Compilation Details) are available on the AASB website: www.aasb.gov.au.
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Phone: (03) 9617 7600
E-mail: [email protected]
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Comparison with IAS 20
AASB 120 Accounting for Government Grants and Disclosure of Government Assistance as amended incorporates IAS 20 Accounting for Government Grants and Disclosure of Government Assistance as issued and amended by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). Australian specific paragraphs (which are not included in IAS 20) are identified with the prefix “Aus”.
For-profit entities complying with AASB 120 also comply with IAS 20.
Entities preparing general purpose financial statements under Australian Accounting Standards – Simplified Disclosures (Tier 2) will not be in compliance with IFRS Standards.
AASB 1053 Application of Tiers of Australian Accounting Standards explains the two tiers of reporting requirements.
Accounting Standard AASB 120
[Footnote  to the title of the Standard]
This Standard shall be applied in accounting for, and in the disclosure of, government grants and in the disclosure of other forms of government assistance.
This Standard does not deal with:
(a) the special problems arising in accounting for government grants in financial statements reflecting the effects of changing prices or in supplementary information of a similar nature.
(b) government assistance that is provided for an entity in the form of benefits that are available in determining taxable profit or tax loss, or are determined or limited on the basis of income tax liability. Examples of such benefits are income tax holidays, investment tax credits, accelerated depreciation allowances and reduced income tax rates.
(c) government participation in the ownership of the entity.
(d) government grants covered by AASB 141 Agriculture.
As part of AASB 2008-5 Amendments to Australian Accounting Standards arising from the Annual Improvements Project issued in July 2008 the Board amended terminology used in this Standard to be consistent with other Australian Accounting Standards as follows: (a) ‘taxable income’ was amended to ‘taxable profit or tax loss’, (b) ‘recognised as income/expense’ was amended to ‘recognised in profit or loss’, (c) ‘credited directly to shareholders’ interests/equity’ was amended to ‘recognised outside profit or loss’, and (d) ‘revision to an accounting estimate’ was amended to ‘change in accounting estimate’.
The following terms are used in this Standard with the meanings specified:
Government refers to government, government agencies and similar bodies whether local, national or international.
Government assistance is action by government designed to provide an economic benefit specific to an entity or range of entities qualifying under certain criteria. Government assistance for the purpose of this Standard does not include benefits provided only indirectly through action affecting general trading conditions, such as the provision of infrastructure in development areas or the imposition of trading constraints on competitors.
Government grants are assistance by government in the form of transfers of resources to an entity in return for past or future compliance with certain conditions relating to the operating activities of the entity. They exclude those forms of government assistance which cannot reasonably have a value placed upon them and transactions with government which cannot be distinguished from the normal trading transactions of the entity. 
Grants related to assets are government grants whose primary condition is that an entity qualifying for them should purchase, construct or otherwise acquire long-term assets. Subsidiary conditions may also be attached restricting the type or location of the assets or the periods during which they are to be acquired or held.
Grants related to income are government grants other than those related to assets.
Forgivable loans are loans which the lender undertakes to waive repayment of under certain prescribed conditions.
Fair value is the price that would be received to sell an asset or paid to transfer a liability in an orderly transaction between market participants at the measurement date. (See AASB 13 Fair Value Measurement.)
Definitions [further paragraphs]
Government assistance takes many forms varying both in the nature of the assistance given and in the conditions which are usually attached to it. The purpose of the assistance may be to encourage an entity to embark on a course of action which it would not normally have taken if the assistance was not provided.
The receipt of government assistance by an entity may be significant for the preparation of the financial statements for two reasons. Firstly, if resources have been transferred, an appropriate method of accounting for the transfer must be found. Secondly, it is desirable to give an indication of the extent to which the entity has benefited from such assistance during the reporting period. This facilitates comparison of an entity’s financial statements with those of prior periods and with those of other entities.
Government grants are sometimes called by other names such as subsidies, subventions, or premiums.
Government grants, including non-monetary grants at fair value, shall not be recognised until there is reasonable assurance that:
(a) the entity will comply with the conditions attaching to them; and
(b) the grants will be received.
A government grant is not recognised until there is reasonable assurance that the entity will comply with the conditions attaching to it, and that the grant will be received. Receipt of a grant does not of itself provide conclusive evidence that the conditions attaching to the grant have been or will be fulfilled.
The manner in which a grant is received does not affect the accounting method to be adopted in regard to the grant. Thus a grant is accounted for in the same manner whether it is received in cash or as a reduction of a liability to the government.
A forgivable loan from government is treated as a government grant when there is reasonable assurance that the entity will meet the terms for forgiveness of the loan.
The benefit of a government loan at a below-market rate of interest is treated as a government grant. The loan shall be recognised and measured in accordance with AASB 9 Financial Instruments. The benefit of the below-market rate of interest shall be measured as the difference between the initial carrying value of the loan determined in accordance with AASB 9 and the proceeds received. The benefit is accounted for in accordance with this Standard. The entity shall consider the conditions and obligations that have been, or must be, met when identifying the costs for which the benefit of the loan is intended to compensate.
Government grants shall be recognised in profit or loss on a systematic basis over the periods in which the entity recognises as expenses the related costs for which the grants are intended to compensate.
There are two broad approaches to the accounting for government grants: the capital approach, under which a grant is recognised outside profit or loss, and the income approach, under which a grant is recognised in profit or loss over one or more periods.
Those in support of the capital approach argue as follows:
(a) government grants are a financing device and should be dealt with as such in the statement of financial position rather than be recognised in profit or loss to offset the items of expense that they finance. Because no repayment is expected, such grants should be recognised outside profit or loss.
(b) it is inappropriate to recognise government grants in profit or loss, because they are not earned but represent an incentive provided by government without related costs.
Arguments in support of the income approach are as follows:
(a) because government grants are receipts from a source other than shareholders, they should not be recognised directly in equity but should be recognised in profit or loss in appropriate periods.
(b) government grants are rarely gratuitous. The entity earns them through compliance with their conditions and meeting the envisaged obligations. They should therefore be recognised in profit or loss over the periods in which the entity recognises as expenses the related costs for which the grant is intended to compensate.
(c) because income and other taxes are expenses, it is logical to deal also with government grants, which are an extension of fiscal policies, in profit or loss.
It is fundamental to the income approach that government grants should be recognised in profit or loss on a systematic basis over the periods in which the entity recognises as expenses the related costs for which the grant is intended to compensate. Recognition of government grants in profit or loss on a receipts basis is not in accordance with the accrual accounting assumption (see AASB 101 Presentation of Financial Statements) and would be acceptable only if no basis existed for allocating a grant to periods other than the one in which it was received.
In most cases the periods over which an entity recognises the costs or expenses related to a government grant are readily ascertainable. Thus grants in recognition of specific expenses are recognised in profit or loss in the same period as the relevant expenses. Similarly, grants related to depreciable assets are usually recognised in profit or loss over the periods and in the proportions in which depreciation expense on those assets is recognised.
Grants related to non-depreciable assets may also require the fulfilment of certain obligations and would then be recognised in profit or loss over the periods that bear the cost of meeting the obligations. As an example, a grant of land may be conditional upon the erection of a building on the site and it may be appropriate to recognise the grant in profit or loss over the life of the building.
Grants are sometimes received as part of a package of financial or fiscal aids to which a number of conditions are attached. In such cases, care is needed in identifying the conditions giving rise to costs and expenses which determine the periods over which the grant will be earned. It may be appropriate to allocate part of a grant on one basis and part on another.
A government grant that becomes receivable as compensation for expenses or losses already incurred or for the purpose of giving immediate financial support to the entity with no future related costs shall be recognised in profit or loss of the period in which it becomes receivable.
In some circumstances, a government grant may be awarded for the purpose of giving immediate financial support to an entity rather than as an incentive to undertake specific expenditures. Such grants may be confined to a particular entity and may not be available to a whole class of beneficiaries. These circumstances may warrant recognising a grant in profit or loss of the period in which the entity qualifies to receive it, with disclosure to ensure that its effect is clearly understood.
A government grant may become receivable by an entity as compensation for expenses or losses incurred in a previous period. Such a grant is recognised in profit or loss of the period in which it becomes receivable, with disclosure to ensure that its effect is clearly understood.
Non-monetary government grants
A government grant may take the form of a transfer of a non-monetary asset, such as land or other resources, for the use of the entity. In these circumstances it is usual to assess the fair value of the non-monetary asset and to account for both grant and asset at that fair value. An alternative course that is sometimes followed is to record both asset and grant at a nominal amount.
Presentation of grants related to assets
Government grants related to assets, including non-monetary grants at fair value, shall be presented in the statement of financial position either by setting up the grant as deferred income or by deducting the grant in arriving at the carrying amount of the asset.
Two methods of presentation in financial statements of grants (or the appropriate portions of grants) related to assets are regarded as acceptable alternatives.
One method recognises the grant as deferred income that is recognised in profit or loss on a systematic basis over the useful life of the asset.
The other method deducts the grant in calculating the carrying amount of the asset. The grant is recognised in profit or loss over the life of a depreciable asset as a reduced depreciation expense.
The purchase of assets and the receipt of related grants can cause major movements in the cash flow of an entity. For this reason and in order to show the gross investment in assets, such movements are often disclosed as separate items in the statement of cash flows regardless of whether or not the grant is deducted from the related asset for presentation purposes in the statement of financial position.
Presentation of grants related to income
Grants related to income are presented as part of profit or loss, either separately or under a general heading such as ‘Other income’; alternatively, they are deducted in reporting the related expense.
Supporters of the first method claim that it is inappropriate to net income and expense items and that separation of the grant from the expense facilitates comparison with other expenses not affected by a grant. For the second method it is argued that the expenses might well not have been incurred by the entity if the grant had not been available and presentation of the expense without offsetting the grant may therefore be misleading.
Both methods are regarded as acceptable for the presentation of grants related to income. Disclosure of the grant may be necessary for a proper understanding of the financial statements. Disclosure of the effect of the grants on any item of income or expense which is required to be separately disclosed is usually appropriate.
Repayment of government grants
A government grant that becomes repayable shall be accounted for as a change in accounting estimate (see AASB 108 Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors). Repayment of a grant related to income shall be applied first against any unamortised deferred credit recognised in respect of the grant. To the extent that the repayment exceeds any such deferred credit, or when no deferred credit exists, the repayment shall be recognised immediately in profit or loss. Repayment of a grant related to an asset shall be recognised by increasing the carrying amount of the asset or reducing the deferred income balance by the amount repayable. The cumulative additional depreciation that would have been recognised in profit or loss to date in the absence of the grant shall be recognised immediately in profit or loss.
Circumstances giving rise to repayment of a grant related to an asset may require consideration to be given to the possible impairment of the new carrying amount of the asset.
Excluded from the definition of government grants in paragraph 3 are certain forms of government assistance which cannot reasonably have a value placed upon them and transactions with government which cannot be distinguished from the normal trading transactions of the entity.
Examples of assistance that cannot reasonably have a value placed upon them are free technical or marketing advice and the provision of guarantees. An example of assistance that cannot be distinguished from the normal trading transactions of the entity is a government procurement policy that is responsible for a portion of the entity’s sales. The existence of the benefit might be unquestioned but any attempt to segregate the trading activities from government assistance could well be arbitrary.
The significance of the benefit in the above examples may be such that disclosure of the nature, extent and duration of the assistance is necessary in order that the financial statements may not be misleading.
In this Standard, government assistance does not include the provision of infrastructure by improvement to the general transport and communication network and the supply of improved facilities such as irrigation or water reticulation which is available on an ongoing indeterminate basis for the benefit of an entire local community.
The following matters shall be disclosed:
(a) the accounting policy adopted for government grants, including the methods of presentation adopted in the financial statements;
(b) the nature and extent of government grants recognised in the financial statements and an indication of other forms of government assistance from which the entity has directly benefited; and
(c) unfulfilled conditions and other contingencies attaching to government assistance that has been recognised.
This Standard becomes operative for financial statements covering periods beginning on or after 1 January 2018. Earlier application is permitted for periods beginning after 24 July 2014 but before 1 January 2018. If an entity applies the amendments for an earlier period it shall disclose that fact.
[Deleted by the AASB]
In the previous version of this Standard, paragraph 37 was deleted and paragraph 10A added by AASB 2008-5 Amendments to Australian Accounting Standards arising from the Annual Improvements Project issued in July 2008. An entity shall apply those amendments prospectively to government loans received in periods beginning on or after 1 January 2009. Earlier application is permitted. If an entity applies the amendments for an earlier period it shall disclose that fact.
[Deleted by the AASB]
AASB 2010-7 Amendments to Australian Accounting Standards arising from AASB 9 (December 2010) (as amended) amended the previous version of this Standard as follows: amended paragraph 10A. Paragraph 44, added by AASB 2010-7, was deleted by AASB 2014-1 Amendments to Australian Accounting Standards. Paragraph 47, added by AASB 2014-1, was deleted by AASB 2014-7 Amendments to Australian Accounting Standards arising from AASB 9 (December 2014). An entity shall apply those amendments when it applies AASB 9.
Withdrawal of AASB pronouncements
This Standard repeals AASB 120 Accounting for Government Grants and Disclosure of Government Assistance issued in July 2004. Despite the repeal, after the time this Standard starts to apply under section 334 of the Corporations Act (either generally or in relation to an individual entity), the repealed Standard continues to apply in relation to any period ending before that time as if the repeal had not occurred.
[Note: When this Standard applies under section 334 of the Corporations Act (either generally or in relation to an individual entity), it supersedes the application of the repealed Standard.]
Appendix A -- Australian simplified disclosures for Tier 2 entities
Accounting Standard AASB 120 Accounting for Government Grants and Disclosure of Government Assistance (as amended)
Compilation details are not part of AASB 120.
This compiled Standard applies to annual periods beginning on or after 1 July 2021. It takes into account amendments up to and including 6 March 2020 and was prepared on 21 July 2021 by the staff of the Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB).
This compilation is not a separate Accounting Standard made by the AASB. Instead, it is a representation of AASB 120 (July 2015) as amended by other Accounting Standards, which are listed in the table below.
Table of Standards
Table of amendments
Deleted IAS 20 text
Deleted IAS 20 text is not part of AASB 120.
An entity adopting the Standard for the first time shall:
(a) comply with the disclosure requirements, where appropriate; and
(i) adjust its financial statements for the change in accounting policy in accordance with IAS 8; or
(ii) apply the accounting provisions of the Standard only to grants or portions of grants becoming receivable or repayable after the effective date of the Standard.
IAS 1 (as revised in 2007) amended the terminology used throughout IFRSs. In addition it added paragraph 29A. An entity shall apply those amendments for annual periods beginning on or after 1 January 2009. If an entity applies IAS 1 (revised 2007) for an earlier period, the amendments shall be applied for that earlier period.
IFRS 13, issued in May 2011, amended the definition of fair value in paragraph 3. An entity shall apply that amendment when it applies IFRS 13.
Presentation of Items of Other Comprehensive Income (Amendments to IAS 1), issued in June 2011, amended paragraph 29 and deleted paragraph 29A. An entity shall apply those amendments when it applies IAS 1 as amended in June 2011.