Monday, April 18, 2011

XBRL and IFRS Mess

As a result of a series of missteps and lack of coordination, companies that file financial statements in the United States following IFRS may be getting a break on their first XBRL filing.

The SEC have acknowledged that it would be impossible for foreign private issuers, filing with the SEC following IFRS, to file in XBRL, because the SEC has yet to approve the XBRL taxonomy that IFRS filers should follow. Foreign private issuers (“FPI”) filing quarterly “voluntary” 10-Q filings are the first group of the third and final wave of companies coming under SEC rules to file in the XBRL for the first time.

For example a calendar year FPI in this group files its 30 June 2011 Form 10-Q on its Monday 10 August 2011 due date. The company would have until Tuesday 8 September 2011 to file its first XBRL exhibit under Form 10-Q/A. No grace period would be available for its 30 September 2011 Form 10-Q.
For a FPI not filing voluntarily on domestic forms, its annual report on Form 20-F or Form 40-F for its year ended on or after 15 June 2011 will be the first SEC report required to include XBRL data. So a calendar year filer in this group would file its annual financial statements in XBRL format by its filing deadline in 2012.

To provide financial statements in XBRL according to SEC's rules, companies must follow a taxonomy approved by the SEC. A taxonomy is a list of computer-readable tags in XBRL that allows companies to tag the thousands of bits of financial data that are included in financial statements and footnote disclosures. On March 25, the IFRS Foundation finalized a 2011 IFRS taxonomy that would be followed by IFRS issuers to file in XBRL. The SEC has not yet approved that taxonomy, and hasn't said when it expects to do so. An SEC spokesman said the IFRS Foundation is still working on the taxonomy. Previously taxonomies took about five weeks for SEC approval.

The SEC has relaxed its rules for filings stating: “We are of the view that foreign private issuers that prepare their financial statements in accordance with IFRS as issued by the IASB are not required to submit to the Commission and post on their corporate websites, if any, Interactive Data Files until the Commission specifies on its website a taxonomy for use by such foreign private issuers in preparing their Interactive Data Files,” Cross and Kroeker wrote. The letter gives no indication, however, of when the SEC expects to approve the IFRS taxonomy and therefore how that might impact the date for XBRL filing requirements.


Neal Hannon said...

There is, however, activity in London towards improving the IFRS XBRL taxonomy. The IASF/IASB has authorized a project to improve the coverage of the 2011 IFRS taxonomy to include additional commonly used reporting concepts. This project will begin shortly and is expected to yield a taxonomy that the SEC will deem acceptable for Foreign private issuers to use in the coming months. Stay tuned.

Xbrl said...

Just to expand slightly on XBRL developments around the world: The SEC initiative is focused on public company financial reporting in the US at the Federal level. The Netherlands and Australia programs (known as Standard Business Reporting, or SBR) have a wider scope, seeking to standardize reporting by business to government of financial statements, tax forms, statistics, etc. at both Federal and lower (state, regional) levels of government.