Heritage Assets

Written by Arnold Hill on October 3, 2019

Definition

A heritage asset held by a charity is an asset, tangible or intangible, with historical, artistic, scientific, technological, geophysical or environmental qualities that is held and maintained principally for its contribution to knowledge and culture.

If the asset is not held primarily for this purpose it should not be treated as a heritage asset regardless of its nature. Incidental use of the asset for other purposes does not disqualify an asset for being treated as a heritage asset.

Recognition and Measurement

Heritage assets should be recognised as a separate class of fixed asset on the balance sheet and measured initially at cost or, if donated, at valuation.

They can subsequently be held at historical cost, subject to depreciation or impairment, or under a policy of valuation. If held at historical cost they should be depreciated over their useful economic life although some assets may have indefinite lives and thus not be depreciated. If held at valuation, any reliable valuation technique may be adopted but must be applied to all assets of the same type.

Where reliable information on the cost or value is not available, a charity may choose not to recognise the asset on the balance sheet if this information cannot be obtained at a cost commensurate with the benefit to the users of the accounts.

Disclosure Requirements

All charities with heritage assets must disclose:

  • An indication of the nature and scale of heritage assets held;
  • The policy for the acquisition, preservation, management and disposal of heritage assets; and
  • Accounting policies for heritage assets.

For heritage assets recognised on the balance sheet, charities must disclose the carrying amounts at the beginning of the reporting period and at the reporting date, and a reconciliation of the movements in the period.

For heritage assets not recognised on the balance sheet, charities must:

  •  Explain why;
  •  Describe the significance and nature of those assets; and
  •  Disclose information that is helpful in assessing the value of those assets.

Charities must also provide a summary of transactions relating to heritage assets for the reporting period and each of the previous four reporting periods, disclosing.

  •  Cost of acquired heritage assets;
  • Value of donated heritage assets;
  • Carrying amount of heritage assets disposed of and proceeds received; and
  • Impairments recognised in the period.

Where heritage assets are held both on and off the balance sheet, information should be separately provided for both.

The information in this article is believed to be factually correct at the time of writing and publication, but is not intended to constitute advice. No liability is accepted for any loss howsoever arising as a result of the contents of this article. Specific advice should be sought before entering into, or refraining from entering into any transaction.