The Financial Accounting Foundation and the Securities Exchange Commission have released a proposed 2011 U.S. GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy that public companies will be expected to use when filing their financial reports with the SEC.

The taxonomy uses the Extensible Business Reporting Language, or XBRL, interactive data-tagging format, which the Securities and Exchange Commission has mandated that all public companies use by next year for their financial filings. The deadline for commenting on the new version of the taxonomy is Oct. 30, 2010.

The proposed 2011 U.S. GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy contains updates for accounting standards and other recommended improvements to the official taxonomy currently in use by SEC issuers. The 60-day comment period is intended to solicit feedback on these updates from users of the taxonomy and to provide SEC filers, service providers, software vendors, and other interested parties the opportunity to become familiar with and incorporate the new element names for their current filings.

The final version of the 2011 U.S. GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy is expected to be finalized and published in early 2011. The complete proposed U.S. GAAP 2011 taxonomy and instructions on how to submit comments are available here.

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. The SEC contact details and guidance are available at the SEC’s portal on XBRL.

The U.S. GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy is a list of computer-readable tags in XBRL that allows 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.

The 2009 taxonomy currently in use by SEC issuers was developed by XBRL US Inc., an independent nonprofit organization with research, development, and education programs aimed at facilitating the widespread adoption of XBRL in the United States.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board provided technical accounting standards support to XBRL US during the development of the 2009 taxonomy. In early 2010, the FAF assumed maintenance responsibilities for the taxonomy, and, along with 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 technical enhancements.

The SEC staff is also seeking public comment on certain 2011 non-GAAP taxonomies. These non-GAAP taxonomies are available at http://www.sec.gov/info/edgar/edgartaxonomies_d.shtml.  Comments on the non-GAAP taxonomies should be e-mailed to ask-oid@sec.gov no later than Oct. 31, 2010, with the words “Draft 2011 non-GAAP Taxonomies” in the subject line of the e-mail.

Upon completion of the public comment period and consideration of the feedback, the taxonomies will be finalized and ultimately made available for use with the commission’s systems, which the staff expects to happen in early 2011. Indication that the updated taxonomy is available for use will be made via the standard taxonomies page at http://sec.gov/info/edgar/edgartaxonomies.shtml.

The 2011 U.S. GAAP and non-GAAP taxonomies may be used for filing submissions as soon as they are listed as available for use on http://sec.gov/info/edgar/edgartaxonomies.shtml and the staff encourages filers to transition to the updated taxonomy as soon as is practicable. 

Based on the expected timeframe for the review and finalization of the taxonomies, the staff anticipates that use of the 2011 U.S. GAAP and non-GAAP taxonomies will be required for fiscal periods ending on or after July 15, 2011. When finalized, transition guidance will be posted on http://sec.gov/info/edgar/edgartaxonomies.shtml along with the final 2011 taxonomies.

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