The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the International Accounting Standards Board have updated the computer-readable tags for their accounting standards and exposed them for public comment.

FASB released its proposed 2012 U.S. GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy for public review on Thursday. Like the taxonomy for International Financial Reporting Standards released by the IASB on the same day, it uses Extensible Business Reporting Language, or XBRL, technology, to code the financial reporting labels in a data-tagged format.

XBRL makes it easier for investors and analysts to compare financial results across companies and industries, and is now mandated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for public companies to use in their financial filings. The open-source computer language allows companies to tag thousands of pieces of financial data included in their financial statements and footnote disclosures. The tags let users of financial statements electronically search for, assemble, and process data so the information can be accessed and analyzed by investors, analysts, journalists and regulators.

The proposed 2012 U.S. GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy includes updates for accounting standards and other recommended improvements to the official taxonomy used by public issuers registered with the SEC.

The deadline to submit written comments is Oct. 31, 2011. The 60-day comment period is intended to solicit feedback from users of the taxonomy and to provide SEC filers, service providers, software vendors, and other interested parties with the opportunity to become familiar with and suggest revisions to the taxonomy, including incorporating new elements for current filings.

The 2012 U.S. GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy is expected to be finalized and published in early 2012. The proposed 2012 U.S. GAAP taxonomy and instructions on how to submit comments are available on FASB’s XBRL page.

Questions about using the taxonomy for creating and submitting XBRL-tagged interactive data files in compliance with SEC rules should be directed to the SEC through the SEC’s portal on XBRL.

In early 2010, the Financial Accounting Foundation, the parent organization of FASB and the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, assumed maintenance responsibilities for the taxonomy. The FAF and FASB assembled a team of technical staff dedicated to updating the taxonomy for changes in U.S. GAAP, while identifying best practices in taxonomy extensions and technical enhancements.

On the international side, the IFRS Foundation, the oversight body of the International Accounting Standards Board, said it completed the first part of its project to address requests by regulators and preparers for extensions to the full IFRS XBRL taxonomy.

The IFRS XBRL taxonomy is used to help those filing IFRS financial statements electronically to tag the information with identification tags, also known as “concepts.” Currently, the IFRS taxonomy includes all of the core concepts included in IFRS as issued by the IASB.  However, preparers often need to provide more detailed financial information than is reflected by the core IFRS concepts.

To ensure that those creating and using electronic filings do not need to create their own extensions to the IFRS taxonomy, the IFRS Foundation has created an “extension taxonomy” by analyzing and drawing from common practice.  For instance, although IFRS requires the disclosure of an analysis of expenses, IFRS does not include a prescriptive listing of all of the possible categories of expenses. The common-practice taxonomy includes concepts for the most commonly used types of expenses, such as “sales and marketing.”

The interim taxonomy released on Thursday completes the first part of a project to address this issue, by providing about 350 extensions for the most common concepts used in the financial statements. Work is continuing on extensions to the detailed tagging of the footnotes to the financial statements. The IFRS XBRL team expects to publish the proposals in October 2011.

The common practice concepts are in line with IFRS requirements and will help to alleviate the burden on preparers and to increase the comparability between financial statements in accordance with IFRS that are electronically submitted. 

For more information about the project, including a snapshot summary, podcast and Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, or to download the taxonomy, visit http://go.ifrs.org/Common-practice+concepts1.

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