Intangible Assets: Reducing The Financial Statements Information Gap


Financial reporting of intangibles is prescribed by AASB 138 Intangible Assets. Operative since 2005, it incorporates the International Accounting Standards Board’s IAS 38 of the same name.

Intangible assets are non-monetary assets without physical substance and are identifiable (ie separable or arise from legal rights). Examples of intangible assets include brands, mastheads and customer lists.

The scope of this survey is limited to intangible assets (emphasising those that are internally generated). It excludes acquired and internally generated goodwill.

Intangible assets meeting AASB 138’s balance sheet recognition criteria are:

AASB 138 requires many acquired intangible assets to be recognised in the balance sheet whereas many of the same kinds of assets, if internally generated, are prohibited from being recognised. Furthermore, even where intangible assets are recognised, many of them are not permitted to be subsequently revalued to fair value.

Despite the absence of information resulting from non-recognition of so many intangible assets, AASB 138 only requires limited disclosures about them in financial statements; and in some cases only encourages disclosures.

A question arises as to whether AASB 138 results in users getting sufficient information in financial statements, especially about unrecognised internally generated intangible assets. In addition, as a preparer or auditor, do you believe financial statements appropriately convey useful information about intangible assets in a cost-effective way? On balance, should AASB 138 be amended with the objective of improving the quality of information in a way that would not be too costly for you to prepare or audit?


Our aim is to gain a better understanding of your view. Your response together with that of users will assist us in formulating an AASB Staff Paper to assist the AASB’s deliberations and serve as an input to a submission to the IASB’s Agenda Consultation, which is due by 27 September 2021. In the longer term, it is envisaged the Paper will provide a significant contribution to the international debate on the issues it addresses or, ideally, useful input to any intangible assets project the IASB might agree to add to its active agenda.

Format and protocols

This survey is expected to take approximately 30 minutes to complete and consists of multiple-choice and open-ended questions. Although some questions might appear to overlap and be repetitive, each is designed to discern your view on particular aspects of the current requirements.

We are gathering feedback from users, preparers and auditors of financial reports. Following are the access links to the survey page:


Users Online Survey
Preparers/Auditors Online Survey



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