The Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday that the U.S. GAAP 2012 Taxonomy is now available for use in the SEC’s EDGAR online database, along with the Mutual Fund Risk/Return Summary 2012.

The taxonomies use interactive data tags based on Extensible Business Reporting Language, or XBRL, technology, which the SEC has been mandating that public companies use for their financial filings in recent years. The technology makes it easier for investors to compare financial results across companies and sectors. Users can visit http://sec.gov/info/edgar/edgartaxonomies.shtml for a complete listing of supported standard taxonomies.

The SEC said its staff is strongly encouraging companies to use the most recent version of the taxonomy releases for their interactive data submissions to take advantage of the most up-to-date tags related to new accounting standards and other improvements.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board and its parent organization, the Financial Accounting Foundation, have been overseeing updates to the U.S. GAAP taxonomy, and they said Tuesday that the SEC had approved the 2012 taxonomy, effective March 26.

The U.S. GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy contains updates for accounting standards and other improvements to the official taxonomy previously in use by SEC issuers. It provides a list of computer-readable tags in XBRL format, allowing companies to tag precisely the thousands of pieces of financial data that are included in typical long-form financial statements and related footnote disclosures. The tags allow computers to automatically search for, assemble, and process data so it can be readily accessed and analyzed by investors, analysts, journalists and regulators.

In early 2010, the FAF assumed maintenance responsibilities for the taxonomy, and, along with the FASB, assembled a team of technical staff dedicated to updating the taxonomy for changes in U.S. GAAP, identifying best practices in taxonomy extensions, and implementing technical enhancements. The 2011 taxonomy currently in use by SEC issuers was developed by FASB.

The U.S. GAAP Taxonomy is available here.