ASC 606: Comprehensive Guide to Revenue Recognition

Updated: Aug 28

In May 2014, the FASB issued Topic 606, “Revenue from Contracts with Customers” (“ASC 606” or “Topic 606”). This topic clarifies the principles for recognizing revenue and develops a common revenue standard for U.S. GAAP. Simultaneously, this topic supersedes the revenue recognition requirements in Topic 605, Revenue Recognition, and most industry-specific guidance throughout the Industry Topics of the Codification. The core principle of the guidance requires an entity to recognize revenue to depict the transfer of promised goods or services to customers in an amount that reflects the consideration to which the entity expects to be entitled in exchange for those goods or services. To achieve that core principle, an entity should apply the following five steps:




Step 1: Identify the contract(s) with a customer.

Step 2: Identify the performance obligations in the contract.

Step 3: Determine the transaction price.

Step 4: Allocate the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract.

Step 5: Recognize revenue when (or as) the entity satisfies a performance obligation.


Step 1: Identify the contract(s) with a customer.


ASC 606-10-25-1 An entity shall account for a contract with a customer that is within the scope of this Topic only when all of the following criteria are met:

a. The parties to the contract have approved the contract (in writing, orally, or in accordance with other customary business practices) and are committed to perform their respective obligations.

b. The entity can identify each party’s rights regarding the goods or services to be transferred.

c. The entity can identify the payment terms for the goods or services to be transferred.

d. The contract has commercial substance (that is, the risk, timing, or amount of the entity’s future cash flows is expected to change as a result of the contract).

e. It is probable that the entity will collect substantially all of the consideration to which it will be entitled in exchange for the goods or services that will be transferred to the customer.


ASC 606-10-25-2 A contract is an agreement between two or more parties that creates enforceable rights and obligations. Enforceability of the rights and obligations in a contract is a matter of law. Contracts can be written, oral, or implied by an entity’s customary business practices.


Step 2: Identify the performance obligations


ASC 606-10-25-14 At contract inception, an entity shall assess the goods or services promised in a contract with a customer and shall identify as a performance obligation each promise to transfer to the customer either:

a. A good or service (or a bundle of goods or services) that is distinct;

b. A series of distinct goods or services that are substantially the same and that have the same pattern of transfer to the customer.


ASC 606-10-25-16 A contract with a customer generally explicitly states the goods or services that an entity promises to transfer to a customer. However, the promised goods and services identified in a contract with a customer may not be limited to the goods or services that are explicitly stated in that contract. This is because a contract with a customer also may include promises that are implied by an entity’s customary business practices, published policies, or specific statements if, at the time of entering into the contract, those promises create a reasonable expectation of the customer that the entity will transfer a good or service to the customer.


ASC 606-10-25-16A An entity is not required to assess whether promised goods or services are performance obligations if they are immaterial in the context of the contract with the customer.


ASC 606-10-25-19 A good or service that is promised to a customer is distinct if both of the following criteria are met:

a. The customer can benefit from the good or service either on its own or together with other resources that are readily available to the customer (that is, the good or service is capable of being distinct).

b. The entity’ s promise to transfer the good or service to the customer is separately identifiable from other promises in the contract (that is, the promise to transfer the good or service is distinct within the context of the contract).


ASC 606-10-25-20 A customer can benefit from a good or service in accordance with paragraph 606-10-25-19(a) if the good or service could be used, consumed, sold for an amount that is greater than scrap value, or otherwise held in a way that generates economic benefits. For some goods or services, a customer may be able to benefit from a good or service on its own. For other goods or services, a customer may be able to benefit from the good or service only in conjunction with other readily available resources. A readily available resource is a good or service that is sold separately (by the entity or another entity) or a resource that the customer has already obtained from the entity (including goods or services that the entity will have already transferred to the customer under the contract) or from other transactions or events. Various factors may provide evidence that the customer can benefit from a good or service either on its own or in conjunction with other readily available resources.


ASC 606-10-25-21 In assessing whether an entity’s promises to transfer goods or services to the customer are separately identifiable in accordance with paragraph 606-10-25-19(b), the objective is to determine whether the nature of the promise, within the context of the contract, is to transfer each of those goods or services individually or, instead, to transfer a combined item or items to which the promised goods or services are inputs. Factors that indicate that two or more promises to transfer goods or services to a customer are not separately identifiable include, but are not limited to, the following:

a. The entity provides a significant service of integrating goods or services with other goods or services promised in the contract into a bundle of goods or services that represent the combined output or outputs for which the customer has contracted. In other words, the entity is using the goods or services as inputs to produce or deliver the combined output or outputs specified by the customer. A combined output or outputs might include more than one phase, element, or unit.

b. One or more of the goods or services significantly modifies or customizes, or are significantly modified or customized by, one or more of the other goods or services promised in the contract.

c. The goods or services are highly interdependent or highly interrelated. In other words, each of the goods or services is significantly affected by one or more of the other goods or services in the contract. For example, in some cases, two or more goods or services are significantly affected by each other because the entity would not be able to fulfill its promise by transferring each of the goods or services independently.


ASC 606-10-25-22 If a promised good or service is not distinct, an entity shall combine that good or service with other promised goods or services until it identifies a bundle of goods or services that is distinct. In some cases, that would result in the entity accounting for all the goods or services promised in a contract as a single performance obligation.


ASC 606-10- 55-30 It is common for an entity to provide (in accordance with the contract, the law, or the entity’s customary business practices) a warranty in connection with the sale of a product (whether a good or service). The nature of a warranty can vary significantly across industries and contracts. Some warranties provide a customer with assurance that the related product will function as the parties intended because it complies with agreed-upon specifications. Other warranties provide the customer with a service in addition to the assurance that the product complies with agreed-upon specifications.


ASC 606-10- 55-32 If a customer does not have the option to purchase a warranty separately, an entity should account for the warranty in accordance with the guidance on product warranties in Subtopic 460-10 on guarantees, unless the promised warranty, or a part of the promised warranty, provides the customer with a service in addition to the assurance that the product complies with agreed-upon specifications.


ASC 606-10-55-33 In assessing whether a warranty provides a customer with a service in addition to the assurance that the product complies with agreed-upon specifications, an entity should consider factors such as:

a. Whether the warranty is required by law — If the entity is required by law to provide a warranty, the existence of that law indicates that the promised warranty is not a performance obligation because such requirements typically exist to protect customers from the risk of purchasing defective products.

b. The length of the warranty coverage period — The longer the coverage period, the more likely it is that the promised warranty is a performance obligation because it is more likely to provide a service in addition to the assurance that the product complies with agreed-upon specifications.

c. The nature of the tasks that the entity promises to perform — If it is necessary for an entity to perform specified tasks to provide the assurance that a product complies with agreed-upon specifications (for example, a return shipping service for a defective product), then those tasks likely do not give rise to a performance obligation.