Skip to content
Sign In
Get a Demo

Definitions, Guidelines, & Best Practices for GASB 87

GASB 87 will fundamentally change the way that both lessors and lessees recognize and disclose leases. Learn key definitions, guidelines, and best practices.

Schedule a Demo

Understanding GASB 87

GASB 87 is the new lease accounting standard for governmental entities that becomes effective for reporting periods beginning after June 15, 2021 (June 30, 2022 audits will be first). In summary, governmental entities are required to:

  • Consolidate their lease agreements (lessee and lessor - copiers, vehicles, real estate, water tower, cell lease, among others)
  • Test each agreement to determine whether they’re subject to the reporting requirements
  • Calculate lease beginning balances and schedules
  • Update their financial statements and note disclosures with this new information

So what does this mean?

A lease is a contract that conveys control of the right to use another entity’s nonfinancial asset (the underlying asset) as specified in the contract for a period of time in an exchange or exchange-like transaction.

A lease term is the period during which a lessee has a noncancelable right to use an underlying asset (referred to as the noncancelable period), plus periods covered by an option to extend (if it is reasonably certain the option will be exercised) or terminate (if it is reasonably certain the option will not be exercised).

To determine whether a contract conveys control of the right to use the underlying asset, a government should assess whether it has both of the following:

  • The right to determine the nature and manner of use of the underlying asset as specified in the contract
  • The right to obtain the present service capacity from use of the underlying asset as specified in the contract

For the Lessor: A lessor owns the asset(s) in question (such as a vehicle, server, or building) and leases it out to the lessee. They must recognize a lease receivable and a deferred inflow of resources. Because the lessor retains ownership of the asset, custody generally reverts to them at the conclusion of the lease term.

For the Lessee: A lessee has the right to use the asset, provided they meet the terms spelled out in the lease contract. They must recognize a lease liability and an intangible right-to-use lease asset.

A short-term lease is a lease with a maximum possible term of 12 months (or less), including any options to extend, regardless of their probability of being exercised. Lessees and lessors should recognize short-term lease payments as outflows of resources or inflows of resources, respectively, based on the payment provisions of the lease contract.

Who is Impacted by GASB 87?

GASB 87 impacts both lessees and lessors from:

  • Local government (counties, municipalities, school districts)
  • Higher education (public colleges and universities)
  • Public hospitals and healthcare providers

Nearly every government, higher education, and healthcare organization has at least one lease, whether for buildings, land, vehicles, or equipment. That means GASB 87 will affect most organizations.

What is the Purpose of GASB 87?

The objective of Statement No. 87 is to improve accounting and financial reporting for leases by governments in order to provide better information to financial statement users.

Before, leases could be categorized as either a current operating lease or a capital lease. Under the new model, leases are recognized as a means to finance the right to use an asset. Essentially, it narrows the existing definition of a lease and then goes on to adjust how leases are recorded in financial statements.

In doing so, GASB 87 establishes a single model for lease accounting based on the concept that leases are financings of the right to use an underlying asset.

When Does GASB 87 Go into Effect?

GASB 87 is in effect for fiscal years beginning after June 15, 2021.

GASB Statement No. 87 has been in discussion since 2017 with an original implementation deadline of December 2019. Due to COVID-19, GASB 87 was postponed roughly 18 months, giving local governments, higher education, and public healthcare providers additional time to prepare and comply.

Getting Started on Your GASB 87 Implementation

Preparing for GASB 87 implementation and ongoing compliance will be a very time-intensive process, and governments should start to evaluate the impact of the new guidance on their financial teams. Depending on the number of leases an organization has and the size of the team, it can take 12 weeks or longer for a small team to plan and prepare for GASB 87.

There are many tasks to consider as you prepare for the mandatory change: Understand the structure and requirements of the new accounting standard. Evaluate whether to overhaul your current lease reporting structure yourself or leverage a technology solution. Complete GASB 87 implementation before the deadline.

Lease management software, such as DebtBook, has been developed specifically with governments and other public entities (and their unique challenges) in mind. These solutions can help organizations operate more efficiently and significantly reduce the burden placed on local teams to comply with new financial reporting standards. Most importantly, they can address all three phases of challenges faced by organizations looking to implement GASB 87:

  • Upfront Lease Organization and Data Extraction
  • Schedule Creation
  • Ongoing Compliance

If this process sounds overwhelming, you may want to consider a lease management solution. These types of software programs help organizations implement and maintain compliance with GASB 87 by automating time-consuming processes and eliminating manual data entry.

Getting Started

DebtBook delivers a complete, powerful, easy-to-use, cloud-based debt and lease management software for government, higher education, and healthcare finance teams. We make GASB 87 implementation and ongoing compliance easy and produce results that you will be confident in.

  • Upfront Lease Organization and Data Extraction: You drag and drop your leases. Then our team helps organize and extract data from all of your leases (or suspected leases) while documenting our work and collecting additional client information to help ensure accuracy. Next, we load the data into the application for you to verify.
  • Schedule Creation: DebtBook generates all schedules and journal entries necessary to comply with GASB 87. Share with internal and external team members for use and verification.
  • Ongoing Compliance: Our lease aggregation tool helps you painlessly collect leases from other professionals in your organization. Guest access further helps facilitate communication and coordination with financial advisors, auditors, and other external partners.

This entire process is designed to be straight-forward and painless. We’ve built the intuitive, affordable, and complete solution for government finance teams that’s designed by government finance teams.

Schedule a demo with us today to see how DebtBook enables easy and confident compliance with GASB 87.

Additional Resources

The following articles and resources will help you to better understand and navigate the requirements of GASB 87.

A Step-by-Step Guide for Planning and Preparing for GASB 87

Are you ready for GASB 87? If the answer to that question is “no,” not to worry. This guide breaks down GASB 87 implementation into 9 bite-sized pieces for your financial team.

Building an Action Plan for GASB 87 Compliance

As the deadline for GASB 87 compliance approaches, it’s time to put a plan in motion to implement the new accounting standards on leases.

Considerations for GASB 87 Compliance

There are many factors that local government and other public entities need to consider as they prepare for GASB 87 implementation, but these 5 considerations should be at the top of your list.

Understanding Non-Lease Components

Leases can be complex documents that become increasingly complicated when facing changing lease accounting standards and requirements. To make it even more confusing, both lease and non-lease components may be incorporated into the same document.

What is an Embedded Lease?

Not all contracts that are considered leases under GASB 87 will include the words ‘lease’ or ‘rent’ to help clearly identify them as leases. These questions can help with identifying whether or not there is an embedded lease in a contract.

Guide to the Incremental Borrowing Rate

You will likely be required to determine your organization’s incremental borrowing rate (IBR) for at least one of your leases. Use this guide to learn what the IBR is and how to calculate it for your organization.

GASB 87 Changes for Lessee vs Lessors

GASB 87 changes the way that leases are reported in financial statements. This shift affects finance teams differently depending on which side of the transaction their organization is on. Learn how these changes may affect you and how to manage them moving forward.

Don’t Wait to Implement GASB 87: Why Early Adopters Will Come Out Ahead

The amount of work and resources required to successfully implement GASB 87 - and compliant before the effective date - are often underestimated. Learn warning signs of waiting any longer to implement GASB 87 and key benefits for early adopters.

Implementing GASB 87: Types of Leases

You may be surprised to learn that even contracts such as a handful of copier leases are still subject to the GASB 87 standards. This article will help you understand the different types of leases under GASB 87 and how to identify if your organization has one, or several.


DebtBook does not provide professional services or advice. DebtBook has prepared these materials for general informational and educational purposes, which means we have not tailored the information to your specific circumstances. Please consult your professional advisors before taking action based on any information in these materials. Any use of this information is solely at your own risk.

CTA Illustration Grouped

Get a Firsthand Look at DebtBook

Ready to see what DebtBook can do for you? Let’s set up a personal 30-minute demo. We’ll walk you through every aspect of DebtBook, so you can see how we’re changing the game for organizations like yours.

Start changing the way you work. Schedule a demo today!

Schedule a Demo