ASC 210 - Balance Sheet

Guidance on ASC 210 - Balance Sheet

ASC 210 - Balance Sheet

ASC 210-10: Balance Sheet – Overall


ASC 210-10 provides overarching guidelines and principles for presenting the balance sheet under US GAAP. Its main purpose is to ensure that financial statements give a clear, comprehensive view of an entity’s financial position, aiding stakeholders in making informed economic decisions.

Key Aspects:

  1. Classification of Assets and Liabilities: It outlines the criteria for classifying assets and liabilities as current or non-current, promoting consistency and comparability.

  2. Presentation Standards: It does not mandate a specific format but requires that the presentation should be clear and facilitate easy understanding.

  3. Offsetting: The section provides guidance on when offsetting of assets and liabilities is appropriate, emphasizing that offsetting should only occur when legally enforceable rights exist and there is an intention to settle on a net basis.

Objective: To provide a structured framework that ensures the balance sheet is presented in a manner that reflects the liquidity and financial flexibility of the entity, making it easier for users to assess the financial health and operational efficiency of the organization.


  • Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). ASC 210-10 Overview.

ASC 210-20: Balance Sheet – Offsetting


ASC 210-20 focuses specifically on the conditions and guidelines for offsetting assets and liabilities in the balance sheet. Its main aim is to ensure that offsetting is only done under specific circumstances to avoid misleading presentation of the entity’s financial position.

Key Aspects:

  1. Criteria for Offsetting: It stipulates that offsetting can only occur when the entity has a legal right to offset the recognized amounts and intends either to settle on a net basis or to realize the asset and settle the liability simultaneously.

  2. Disclosure Requirements: Entities must provide detailed disclosures when offsetting is applied, including the nature and amount of the offset items, ensuring transparency and full understanding for users of the financial statements.

  3. Application: It applies to all entities preparing balance sheets and aims to prevent misleading representation of net assets and liabilities.

Objective: To enhance the transparency and comparability of financial statements by providing clear criteria and disclosure requirements for offsetting, thereby preventing the misrepresentation of an entity’s financial position.


  • Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB). ASC 210-20 Overview.

These sections collectively ensure that the balance sheet provides a transparent, consistent, and accurate representation of an entity’s financial position, facilitating better decision-making for users of the financial statements.

Classification of Assets and Liabilities

  • Current vs. Non-Current: ASC 210 requires entities to classify assets and liabilities as current or non-current. Current assets and liabilities are expected to be settled within one year, while non-current items are expected to extend beyond one year.

  • Liquidity Presentation: The classification aids users in assessing the liquidity and financial flexibility of the entity.

Balance Sheet Format

  • Standard Format: ASC 210 does not prescribe a single format but allows for flexibility as long as the presentation is clear and consistent. The common formats include classified, unclassified, and report form.

  • Comparative Information: Companies often present comparative balance sheets, showing the financial position at the end of the current period and the prior period.

Offsetting of Assets and Liabilities

  • Offsetting Criteria: ASC 210 stipulates that assets and liabilities should not be offset unless specific criteria are met, such as the existence of a legal right to offset and the intention to settle on a net basis.

  • Disclosure Requirements: Any offsetting must be clearly disclosed to ensure transparency.

Subsequent Events

  • Recognition and Disclosure: Events occurring after the balance sheet date but before the financial statements are issued or available to be issued are considered. These events can affect the recognition, measurement, and disclosure of items in the financial statements.

  • Types of Events: Subsequent events are classified into recognized events (those providing additional evidence about conditions that existed at the balance sheet date) and non-recognized events (those that indicate conditions that arose after the balance sheet date).

Fair Value Measurements

  • Measurement Basis: ASC 210 requires certain items to be measured at fair value and disclosed accordingly. This includes an emphasis on market-based measurements for assets and liabilities.

  • Hierarchy of Inputs: The fair value hierarchy categorizes the inputs used in valuation techniques into three levels, from directly observable market data to unobservable inputs.

  • Identification of Relationships: Entities must disclose material related party transactions and relationships, ensuring users understand the nature and potential impact of these relationships.

  • Disclosure Requirements: This includes the nature of the relationship, the amount of the transactions, and any amounts due to or from related parties.

Deferred Taxes

  • Presentation of Deferred Tax Assets and Liabilities: ASC 210 requires deferred tax assets and liabilities to be classified as non-current on the balance sheet.

  • Valuation Allowances: Entities must evaluate the need for valuation allowances against deferred tax assets and disclose the reasoning for any such allowances.

Contingencies and Provisions

  • Recognition Criteria: Liabilities for contingencies are recognized if it is probable that a liability has been incurred and the amount can be reasonably estimated.

  • Disclosure: Entities must disclose the nature and potential impact of significant contingencies, even if they are not recognized as liabilities on the balance sheet.


  • Recognition and Measurement: Under ASC 842 (which affects ASC 210), entities must recognize lease assets and liabilities on the balance sheet for virtually all leases, enhancing transparency around lease obligations.

  • Classification: Leases are classified as either finance or operating leases, each with distinct recognition and measurement criteria.

Derivative Instruments and Hedging Activities

  • Fair Value and Cash Flow Hedges: Derivative instruments are measured at fair value and disclosed separately on the balance sheet.

  • Disclosure Requirements: Entities must provide detailed disclosures about their hedging activities, including the purpose of the hedges, the hedged items, and the effectiveness of the hedges.

Additional Considerations

  • Regulatory Compliance: Companies must ensure their balance sheet presentations comply with all relevant regulatory requirements, including those from the SEC and other governing bodies.

  • Changes in Accounting Principles: Any changes in accounting principles affecting balance sheet presentation must be clearly disclosed, including the nature of the change and its impact on financial statements.

Handbook & References