IAS 20: Navigating The Accounting Treatment Of Government Grants

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In the realm of business, comprehending the intricacies of government grants and their accounting treatment is crucial for accurate financial reporting.
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In the realm of business, comprehending the intricacies of government grants and their accounting treatment is crucial for accurate financial reporting. The International Accounting Standard (IAS) 20 outlines specific guidelines for recognizing, measuring, and presenting government grants. Here, we break down the key aspects of IAS 20 to help businesses navigate these regulations effectively.

Definition of a Government Grant

According to IAS 20, a government grant is an assistance provided by the government in the form of transferring economic resources to a company in exchange for past or future compliance with certain conditions related to the company's operational activities.

Recognition Criteria for Government Grants

IAS 20 stipulates that a government grant should only be recognized when management has reasonable assurance that:

  • The company will meet the conditions related to the grant.
  • The company will actually receive the grant.

It is important to note that the form of the grant—whether received in cash or as a reduction of a liability to the governments—does not impact its treatment. Receiving the grant does not automatically prove compliance with the conditions, as compliance may require time beyond the grant's receipt period.

Types of Government Grants

  • Grants Related to Assets: These grants require the recipient to purchase, acquire, or construct non-current assets. They may also come with subsidiary conditions regarding the type or location of the assets or the periods during which they are held or acquired.
  • Grants Related to Income: These are grants that do not fall under the category of asset-related grants.

Recognition and Presentation of Grants

IAS 20 mandates that grants should be recognized as income over the periods matching the related costs for which they compensate. Direct crediting to income is not permissible. The specifics are as follows:

  • Depreciable Assets: Grants are recognized over the asset's depreciation period.
  • Non-Depreciable Assets with Obligations: Grants are recognized over the periods in which the related costs are incurred.
  • Immediate Financial Support: Grants with no related costs are recognized as income in the period they are received.

Presentation Options

  • Presentation of grants related to assets:
    • Set up the grant as deferred income.
    • Deduct the grant from the carrying amount of the asset.
  • Presentation of grants related to income:
    • Present the grant as a separate credit or under a general heading like "other income".
    • Deduct from the related expense.

Repayment of Government Grants

In cases where grants must be repaid due to non-compliance:

  • Income-Related Grants: Repayment should be applied against any unamortized deferred income, with any excess recognized as an expense.
  • Asset-Related Grants: The carrying amount of the asset should be increased, or the deferred income balance reduced by the repayable amount. Any additional depreciation that would have been recognized in the absence of the grant should be immediately expensed.


Understanding the proper accounting treatment of government grants as per IAS 20 is essential for compliance and accurate financial reporting. By recognizing, measuring, and presenting these grants correctly, businesses can ensure transparency and adherence to international standards, thereby maintaining trust and credibility with stakeholders.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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