SEC rebuffs MicroStrategy's non-GAAP bitcoin accounting approach: report

Reports on Friday evening indicate that the Securities and Exchange Commission is pushing back on MicroStrategy's approach to bitcoin accounting.

Bloomberg and CNBC both reported on the SEC's rebuffing, which was included in a December 3 filing that appears to show a months-long back-and-forth between the publicly traded company and the US securities regulator on this issue. 

“We note your response to prior comment 5 and we object to your adjustment for bitcoin impairment charges in your non-GAAP measures,” the filing reportedly states. “Please revise to remove this adjustment in future filings.”

Impairment charges, in accounting, show the decline in the carrying value of an asset on a balance sheet, with the carrying value referring to the cost of that asset minus any fall in the value of it.  MicroStrategy has long pushed for American accounting standards to be updated to account for assets such as bitcoin, penning a letter last fall to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) on the matter. Specifically, the company has cited the ever-shifting value of cryptocurrencies as a flaw in the existing accounting approach. 


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"Impairment charges, including intra-reporting period impairment charges, cannot be reversed once recorded under ASC 350," the company wrote at the time. "As a result, subsequent increases in the market price of a digital asset are not reflected in the digital asset’s reported carrying value on an entity’s balance sheet. Entities with significant digital asset holdings, such as MicroStrategy, are therefore required to report digital asset carrying values on their balance sheets that diverge significantly from their fair market value."

By using its non-GAAP disclosure approach, MicroStrategy went on to write, "provides investors with the type of 'return-on-investment' viewpoint that investors have indicated is valuable to their analysis of the financial health of our company. 

The developments come as MicroStrategy's stock price has fallen by more than 20 percent this week. 

This is a developing story and will be updated with additional information.