Measurement and reporting of heritage assets - Insights from practice in New Zealand

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Accounting for heritage assets has evolved, but continuing diversity in reporting practices remains problematic. Traditional cash-based budgets, which are still common in governmental accounting in some countries, ignore heritage assets as they are non-realisable and often do not generate revenue, yet they incur cash outflows to preserve them. The adoption of accrual accounting for recording heritage assets raises technical issues of recognition and measurement of such assets, both in the balance sheet and in income statements. This chapter examines the financial reporting environment for heritage assets in New Zealand. The chapter provides evidence on the reporting practices of heritage assets by five of New Zealand’s significant museums during the period 2011 to 2020, under IAS 16 and IPSAS 17 requirements. We analyse disclosures on heritage assets in the financial reports of these museums, including accounting policies, valuation and measurement, income statement impact, and related notes. The findings suggest that, despite the existence of the IFRS (IAS 16) and IPSAS (IPSAS 17) reporting standards during this period, a variety of reporting practices exist among New Zealand museums, as heritage assets are recognised either at fair value or historical cost on the balance sheet or not recognised in the financial statements at all. These findings suggest substantial non-uniformity in the actual measurement and reporting of heritage assets and are of interest to policy makers and regulators, particularly in countries that are currently considering adoption of IPSAS.
Measurement of Assets and Liabilities in Public Sector Financial Reporting: theoretical basis and empirical evidence., 2022