- US GAAP
ASC 260 contains guidance for master limited partnerships and notes the following:
Publicly traded master limited partnerships often issue multiple classes of securities that may participate in partnership distributions according to a formula specified in the partnership agreement. A typical master limited partnership consists of publicly traded common units held by limited partners, a general partner interest, and incentive distribution rights. Depending on the structure of the master limited partnership, the incentive distribution rights may be a separate class of nonvoting limited partner interest that the general partner initially holds but generally may transfer or sell apart from its overall interest. Alternatively, the incentive distribution rights may be embedded in the general partner interest such that they cannot be detached and transferred apart from the general partner’s overall interest.
Generally, the partnership agreement obligates the general partner to distribute 100 percent of the partnership’s available cash (as defined in the partnership agreement) at the end of each reporting period to the general partner and limited partners via a distribution waterfall (that is, a schedule that prescribes distributions to the general partner and limited partners at each threshold) within a contractually determined period of time following the end of a reporting period. When certain thresholds are met, the distribution waterfall further allocates available cash to the holder of the separate class of nonvoting limited partner interest (the incentive distribution right holder) or, when the incentive distribution right is embedded in the general partner interest, to the general partner. The net income (or loss) of the partnership is allocated to the capital accounts of the general partner and limited partners based on their respective sharing of income or losses specified in the partnership agreement, but only after taking into account any priority income allocations resulting from incentive distributions.