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Twitter Stashes a Half-Billion Dollar Liability Off-Balance Sheet
The company excludes more than $500 million from future operating lease liabilities.
July 28, 2021
Unlike companies that use an inflated discount rate to slash future operating lease liabilities, Twitter (TWTR) is using a different accounting loophole to deceive investors. In its latest 10-Q, Twitter, as it has in the past, disclosed it excludes leases “not yet commenced”.

The $549.3 million in “leases not yet commenced” is up from $447.1 million the prior quarter. Excluding “not yet commenced” leases from the balance sheet is an accounting loophole Twitter and others are using to hide billions of dollars of liabilities from investors.

Though widely used, this treatment appears inconsistent with FASB’s guidance on the topic. If a lease is legally binding— as Twitter acknowledges— Topic 842 (ASU 2016-02) makes clear that it must be accounted for on the balance sheet:

“A lessee should recognize in the statement of financial position a liability to make lease payments (the lease liability)...”
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