The Securities and Exchange Commission has given its approval to the 2017 GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy, the annually updated set of accounting standards built using computer-readable tags.

The Financial Accounting Standards Board’s staff develops and maintains the taxonomy, which is used by public companies registered with the SEC. Each year, FASB updates the taxonomy to reflect the latest accounting standards updates and improvements. The taxonomy relies on Extensible Business Reporting Language, or XBRL, technology to make the information easier for investors, analysts and regulators to access and compare financial information across companies and industries.

SEC building with official seal
Image: Bloomberg

FASB pointed out that the taxonomy as accepted by the SEC has been modified from an earlier release last December to change two documentation labels. In connection with the latest release of the taxonomy, FASB’s staff has issued several final 2017 XBRL Taxonomy Implementation Guides, available on the XBRL Taxonomy Implementation Guide Page.

FASB is also hosting a webcast later this month to discuss the latest version of the taxonomy. The webcast is scheduled for Tuesday, March 28, 2017, from 1:00 to 2:15 p.m. ET. Participants will be eligible for up to 1.5 hours of CPE credit if they attend the live webcast as individuals, although CPE credit is not available for group viewing of the webcast. To register or to learn more, click here.

In addition to the GAAP taxonomy, the SEC also made available last week several other XBRL taxonomies. The SEC upgraded its EDGAR system last week to a new release, and it now supports the 2017 US GAAP, 2017 COUNTRY, 2017 CURRENCY, 2017 EXCH, and 2017 NAICS taxonomies. Click here for a complete list of the supported taxonomies.

The SEC staff is strongly encouraging companies to use the most recent version of the taxonomies for their XBRL exhibits to take advantage of the most up-to-date tags related to new accounting standards and other improvements. The SEC staff suggests filers consider transitioning to the 2017 taxonomies for the earliest reporting period ending after March 6, 2017, but not for reporting periods that end before March 6, 2017.

Earlier this month, the SEC also published an XBRL taxonomy for foreign private issuers that prepare their financial statements in accordance with International Financial Reporting Standards, as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board.

They can begin to immediately submit their financial statements in XBRL, the SEC said. Otherwise, all foreign private issuers are required to submit their financial statements in XBRL for fiscal periods ending on or after Dec. 15, 2017.

“Foreign private issuers will use the published IFRS Taxonomy for IFRS financial statements, which will enable the public to take advantage of enhanced data analysis of those financial statements, as they already can with financial statements of issuers that prepare their financial statements in accordance with U.S. accounting standards,” said SEC acting chairman Michael Piwowar in a statement.

Back in 2009, the SEC adopted requirements for structuring certain foreign private issuer financial statements in XBRL once an IFRS taxonomy was specified on SEC.gov.

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Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of AccountingToday.com, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.