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FASB Finishes Taxonomy, FERF Research Aids Users

Tammy Whitehouse | December 20, 2013

The Financial Accounting Standards Board has finalized its 2014 U.S. GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy, which now goes to the Securities and Exchange Commission for final acceptance.

FASB's annual update exercise led to changes in the taxonomy as a result of updates to accounting standards and other suggested improvements that arise over the course of a year. FASB also provided a guide for using the new taxonomy.

Changes from the 2013 to the 2014 taxonomy include the removal of references that have been superseded by the Accounting Standards Codification and the removal of non-GAAP references that are no longer maintained, a remodeling of the segment disclosure area and areas specific to the insurance profession, plus a remodeling of disclosures for unrecognized deferred taxes. The new taxonomy also features a remodeling of the disclosures of other operating income and expense to eliminate redundancies, FASB says.

While FASB is responsible for updating the taxonomy, the SEC must officially accept it before registrants will be required to use it to complete their XBRL filings. In the meantime, companies looking to improve their XBRL filings have some new resources from Financial Executives International to consider.

FEI's Financial Executives Research Foundation recently published two research papers intended to help public companies improve their XBRL filings. The first, titled Challenges with XBRL, profiles eight large global companies that have been identified by FEI as exemplifying a solid process. They include Cisco, Halliburton, Microsoft, Nielsen, Well Fargo, and three other unidentified companies.

The paper explores decisions about which solution to follow, controls around the XBRL tagging process, the timing and review process, the internal process of obtaining approvals, and suggested internal controls for preparing XBRL exhibits. “In examining how their peers have submitted filings using full-service, outsourced solutions, cloud tools, or an in-house integrated system, businesses can clearly see the benefits and challenges associated with each platform,” FERF wrote.

The second FERF paper, titled Data Mining with XBRL, explores a range of analytics that are available using XBRL. The paper reviews the functionality and outputs associated with each of the nine solutions that are analyzed. FERF says the data mining tools make the analytical process easier, even as many criticize XBRL for not yet delivering the benefits promised.