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FASB Publishes Nearly Final 2013 GAAP Taxonomy

Tammy Whitehouse | December 26, 2012

The Financial Accounting Standards Board has published the revised 2013 U.S. GAAP Taxonomy pending its approval and final acceptance from the Securities and Exchange Commission.

FASB published the proposed taxonomy in the fall to give users an opportunity to preview the annual updates and suggest any further changes or improvements. FASB has updated the proposed 2013 taxonomy based on that feedback and is submitting it to the SEC for its final approval, which is required before companies can use it and rely on it to submit their financial statements in XBRL. FASB makes the revised taxonomy available, however, to give preparers, service providers, software vendors and others time to explore it and consider how it might apply to their circumstances.

FASB updates the taxonomy annually to reflect changes in accounting standards and to make other improvements based on common filing practices. FASB says changes to the 2013 taxonomy include the removal of obsolete references to accounting standards and the removal of non-GAAP references that are no longer maintained.

FASB also remodeled the segment disclosure area, areas specific to the insurance profession, and 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. FASB published a summary of the changes to make it easier for users to identify where changes have occurred.

The taxonomy is a list of computer-readable tags or labels, coded in XBRL, that link to specific elements in GAAP financial statements. Preparers refer to the taxonomy to select the appropriate tags to explain each element in their financial statements to submit them to the Securities and Exchange Commission formatted in XBRL.

The largest public companies have been reporting in XBRL since 2009 but the requirement became effective for the smallest companies in 2011. XBRL enables users of financial statements to search, sort, and analyze data faster and easier than ever before. In early 2013, the SEC expects to get its first detailed look at XBRL financial statements submitted by the smallest public companies, who are performing the detail tagging for the first time, and it is hoping to see some improvements in common errors companies have made.