International Financial Reporting Standards
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International Financial Reporting Standards, usually called IFRS, are standards issued by the IFRS Foundation and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) to provide a common global language for business affairs so that company accounts are understandable and comparable across international boundaries. They are a consequence of growing international shareholding and trade and are particularly important for companies that have dealings in several countries. They are progressively replacing the many different national accounting standards. They are the rules to be followed by accountants to maintain books of accounts which are comparable, understandable, reliable and relevant as per the users internal or external. IFRS, with the exception of IAS 29 Financial Reporting in Hyperinflationary Economies and IFRIC 7 Applying the Restatement Approach under IAS 29, are authorized in terms of the historical cost paradigm. IAS 29 and IFRIC 7 are authorized in terms of the units of constant purchasing power paradigm.
Criticisms of IFRS are (1) that they are not being adopted in the US (see US GAAP), (2) a number of criticisms from France and (3) that IAS 29 Financial Reporting in Hyperinflationary Economies had no positive effect at all during 6 years in Zimbabwe's hyperinflationary economy. The IASB offered responses to the first two criticisms, but has offered no response to the last criticism while IAS 29 was as of March 2014 being implemented in its original form in Venezuela and Belarus.
- 1 History of IFRS
- 2 IFRS and US GAAP
- 3 Objective of financial statements
- 4 Qualitative characteristics of financial information
- 5 Elements of financial statements
- 6 Recognition of elements of financial statements
- 7 Capital Concept and capital maintenance
- 8 Requirements
- 9 Criticisms
- 10 Adoption
- 11 Consequences of adopting IFRS
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 Further reading
- 15 External links
History of IFRS
The International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC) was established in June 1973 by accountancy bodies representing ten countries. It devised and published International Accounting Standards (IAS), interpretations and a conceptual framework. These were looked to by many national accounting standard-setters in developing national standards.
In 2001 the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) replaced the IASC with a remit to bring about convergence between national accounting standards through the development of global accounting standards. During its first meeting the new Board adopted existing IAS and Standing Interpretations Committee standards (SICs). The IASB has continued to develop standards calling the new standards "International Financial Reporting Standards" (IFRS).
In 2002 the European Union (EU) agreed that, from 1 January 2005, International Financial Reporting Standards would apply for the consolidated accounts of the EU listed companies, bringing about the introduction of IFRS to many large entities. Other countries have since followed the lead of the EU.
IFRS and US GAAP
US GAAP remains separate from IFRS. The Securities Exchange Committee (SEC) requires the use of US GAAP by domestic companies with listed securities and does not permit them to use IFRS; US GAAP is also used by some companies in Japan and the rest of the world.
In 2002 IASB and Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), the body supporting US GAAP, announced a programme aimed at eliminating differences between IFRS and US GAAP. In 2012 the SEC announced that it expected separate US GAAP to continue for the foreseeable future but sought to encourage further work to align the two standards.
IFRS is sometimes described as principles-based, as opposed to a rules-based approach in US GAAP; so in US GAAP there is more instruction in the application of standards to specific examples and industries.
Objective of financial statements
Financial statements are a structured representation of the financial positions and financial performance of an entity. The objective of financial statements is to provide information about the financial position, financial performance and cash flows of an entity that is useful to a wide range of users in making economic decisions. Financial statements also show the results of the management's stewardship of the resources entrusted to it.
A To meet this objective, financial statements provide information about an entity's assets and cash flows. This information, along with other information in the notes, assists users of financial statements in predicting the entity's future cash flows and, in particular, their timing and certainty.
The following are the general features in IFRS:
- Fair presentation and compliance with IFRS: Fair presentation requires the faithful representation of the effects of the transactions, other events and conditions in accordance with the definitions and recognition criteria for assets, liabilities, income and expenses set out in the Framework of IFRS.
- Going concern: Financial statements are present on a going concern basis unless management either intends to liquidate the entity or to cease trading, or has no realistic alternative but to do so.
- Accrual basis of accounting: An entity shall recognise items as assets, liabilities, equity, income and expenses when they satisfy the definition and recognition criteria for those elements in the Framework of IFRS.
- Materiality and aggregation: Every material class of similar items has to be presented separately. Items that are of a dissimilar nature or function shall be presented separately unless they are immaterial.
- Offsetting: Offsetting is generally forbidden in IFRS. However certain standards require offsetting when specific conditions are satisfied (such as in case of the accounting for defined benefit liabilities in IAS 19 and the net presentation of deferred tax liabilities and deferred tax assets in IAS 12).
- Frequency of reporting: IFRS requires that at least annually a complete set of financial statements is presented. However listed companies generally also publish interim financial statements (for which the accounting is fully IFRS compliant)for which the presentation is in accordance with IAS 34 Interim Financing Reporting.
- Comparative information: IFRS requires entities to present comparative information in respect of the preceding period for all amounts reported in the current period's financial statements. In addition comparative information shall also be provided for narrative and descriptive information if it is relevant to understanding the current period's financial statements. The standard IAS 1 also requires an additional statement of financial position (also called a third balance sheet) when an entity applies an accounting policy retrospectively or makes a retrospective restatement of items in its financial statements, or when it reclassifies items in its financial statements. This for example occurred with the adoption of the revised standard IAS 19 (as of 1 January 2013) or when the new consolidation standards IFRS 10-11-12 were adopted (as of 1 January 2013 or 2014 for companies in the European Union).
- Consistency of presentation: IFRS requires that the presentation and classification of items in the financial statements is retained from one period to the next unless:
- it is apparent, following a significant change in the nature of the entity's operations or a review of its financial statements, that another presentation or classification would be more appropriate having regard to the criteria for the selection and application of accounting policies in IAS 8; or
- an IFRS standard requires a change.
Qualitative characteristics of financial information
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Fundamental qualitative characteristics of financial information include:
- Faithful representation
Enhancing qualitative characteristics include:
Elements of financial statements
The elements directly related to the measurement of the statement of financial position include:
- Asset: A present economic resource controlled by the entity as a result of past events which are expected to generate future economic benefits.
- Liability: A present obligation of the entity to transfer an economic resource as a result of past events
- Equity: Nominal equity is the nominal residual interest in the nominal assets of the entity after deducting all its liabilities in nominal value.
The financial performance of an entity is presented in the statement of comprehensive income, which consists of the income statement (Statement of Profit/Loss) and the statement of other comprehensive income (usually presented in two separate statements). Financial performance includes the following elements (which are recognised in the income statement or other comprehensive income as required by the applicable IFRS standard):
- Revenues: increases in economic benefit during an accounting period in the form of inflows or enhancements of assets, or decrease of liabilities that result in increases in equity. However, it does not include the contributions made by the equity participants (for example owners, partners or shareholders).
- Expenses: decreases in economic benefits during an accounting period in the form of outflows, or depletions of assets or incurrences of liabilities that result in decreases in equity. However, these don't include the distributions made to the equity participants.
Results recognised in other comprehensive income are limited to the following specific circumstances:
- Remeasurements of defined benefit assets or liabilities (as defined in the standard IAS 19)
- Increases or decreases in the fair value of financial assets classified as available for sale (with the exception of impairment losses)(as defined in the standard IAS 39)
- Increases or decreases resulting from the application of a revaluation of property, plant and equipment or intangible assets
- Exchange differences resulting from the translation of foreign operations (subsidiary, associate, joint arrangement or branch of a reporting entity, the activities of which are conducted in a country or currency other than those of the reporting entity) according to the standard IAS 21
- the portion of the gain or loss on the hedging instrument in a cash flow hedge (or a hedge of a net investment in a foreign operation, as this is accounted similarly) that is determined to be an effective hedge
The statement of changes in equity consists of a reconciliation of the changes in equity in which the following information is provided:
- total comprehensive income for the period, showing separately the total amounts attributable to owners of the parent and to non-controlling interests;
- for each component of equity, the effects of retrospective application or retrospective restatement recognised in accordance with IAS 8; and
- for each component of equity, a reconciliation between the carrying amount at the beginning and the end of the period, separately disclosing changes resulting from:
- profit or loss;
- other comprehensive income; and
- transactions with owners in their capacity as owners, showing separately contributions by and distributions to owners and changes in ownership interests in subsidiaries that do not result in a loss of control.
- Operating cash flows: the principal revenue-producing activities of the entity and are generally calculated by applying the indirect method, whereby profit or loss is adjusted for the effects of transaction of a non-cash nature, any deferrals or accruals of past or future cash receipts or payments, and items of income or expense associated with investing or financing cash flows.
- Investing cash flows: the acquisition and disposal of long-term assets and other investments not included in cash equivalents. These represent the extent to which expenditures have been made for resources intended to generate future income and cash flows. Only expenditures that result in a recognised asset in the statement of financial position are eligible for classification as investing activities.
- Financing cash flows: activities that result in changes in the size and composition of the contributed equity and borrowings of the entity. These are important because they are useful in predicting claims on future cash flows by providers of capital to the entity.
Notes to the Financial Statements: These shall (a) present information about the basis of preparation of the financial statements and the specific accounting policies used; (b) disclose the information required by IFRSs that is not presented elsewhere in the financial statements; and (c) provide information that is not presented elsewhere in the financ|Statement of Cash Flowsial statements, but is relevant to an understanding of any of them.
Recognition of elements of financial statements
An item is recognized in the financial statements when:
- it is probable future economic benefit will flow to or from an entity.
- the resource can be reliably measured
In some cases specific standards add additional conditions before recognition is possible or prohibit recognition altogether.
An example is the recognition of internally generated brands, mastheads, publishing titles, customer lists and items similar in substance, for which recognition is prohibited by IAS 38. In addition research and development expenses can only be recognised as an intangible asset if they cross the threshold of being classified as 'development cost'.
Whilst the standard on provisions, IAS 37, prohibits the recognition of a provision for contingent liabilities, this prohibition is not applicable to the accounting for contingent liabilities in a business combination. In that case the acquirer shall recognise a contingent liability even if it is not probable that an outflow of resources embodying economic benefits will be required.
International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are designed as a common global language for business affairs so that company accounts are understandable and comparable across international boundaries.
Capital Concept and capital maintenance
Concepts of capital
Par. 102. A financial concept of capital is adopted by most entities in preparing their financial statements. Under a financial concept of capital, such as invested money or invested purchasing powers, capital is synonymous with the net assets or equity of the entity. Under a physical concept of capital, such as operating capability, capital is regarded as the productive capacity of the entity based on, for example, units of output per day.
Par. 103. The selection of the appropriate concept of capital by an entity should be based on the needs of the users of its financial statements. Thus, a financial concept of capital should be adopted if the users of financial statements are primarily concerned with the maintenance of nominal invested capital or the purchasing power of invested capital. If, however, the main concern of users is with the operating capability of the entity, a physical concept of capital should be used. The concept chosen indicates the goal to be attained in determining profit, even though there may be some measurement difficulties in making the concept operational.
Concepts of capital maintenance and the determination of profit
Par. 104. The concepts of capital in paragraph 102 give rise to the following two concepts of capital maintenance:
(a) Financial capital maintenance. Under this concept a profit is earned only if the financial (or money) amount of the net assets at the end of the period exceeds the financial (or money) amount of net assets at the beginning of the period, after excluding any distributions to, and contributions from, owners during the period. Financial capital maintenance can be measured in either nominal monetary units or units of constant purchasing power.
(b) Physical capital maintenance. Under this concept a profit is earned only if the physical productive capacity (or operating capability) of the entity (or the resources or funds needed to achieve that capacity) at the end of the period exceeds the physical productive capacity at the beginning of the period, after excluding any distributions to, and contributions from, owners during the period.
The concepts of capital in paragraph 102 give rise to the following three concepts of capital during low inflation and deflation:
- (A) Physical capital. See paragraph 102&103
- (B) Nominal financial capital. See paragraph 104.
- (C) Constant item purchasing power financial capital. See paragraph 104.
The concepts of capital in paragraph 102 give rise to the following three concepts of capital maintenance during low inflation and deflation:
- (1) Physical capital maintenance: optional during low inflation and deflation. Current Cost Accounting model prescribed by IFRS. See Par 106.
- (2) Financial capital maintenance in nominal monetary units (Historical cost accounting): authorized by IFRS but not prescribed—optional during low inflation and deflation. See Par 104 (a) Historical cost accounting. Financial capital maintenance in nominal monetary units per se during inflation and deflation is a fallacy: it is impossible to maintain the real value of financial capital constant with measurement in nominal monetary units per se during inflation and deflation.
- (3) Financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power (Capital Maintenance in Units of Constant Purchasing Power): authorized by IFRS but not prescribed—optional during low inflation and deflation. See Par 104(a). Capital Maintenance in Units of Constant Purchasing Power is prescribed during hyperinflation in IAS 29: i.e. the restatement of Historical Cost or Current Cost period-end financial statements in terms of the period-end monthly published Consumer Price Index. Only financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power (Capital Maintenance in Units of Constant Purchasing Power) in terms of a daily index per se can automatically maintain the real value of financial capital constant at all levels of inflation and deflation in all entities that at least break even in real value—ceteris paribus—for an indefinite period of time. This would happen whether these entities own re-valuable fixed assets or not and without the requirement of more capital or additional retained profits to simply maintain the existing constant real value of existing shareholders' equity constant. Financial capital maintenance in units of constant purchasing power requires the calculation and accounting of net monetary losses and gains from holding monetary items during low inflation and deflation. The calculation and accounting of net monetary losses and gains during low inflation and deflation have thus been authorized in IFRS since 1989.
Par. 105. The concept of capital maintenance is concerned with how an entity defines the capital that it seeks to maintain. It provides the linkage between the concepts of capital and the concepts of profit because it provides the point of reference by which profit is measured; it is a prerequisite for distinguishing between an entity's return on capital and its return of capital; only inflows of assets in excess of amounts needed to maintain capital may be regarded as profit and therefore as a return on capital. Hence, profit is the residual amount that remains after expenses (including capital maintenance adjustments, where appropriate) have been deducted from income. If expenses exceed income the residual amount is a loss.
Par. 106. The physical capital maintenance concept requires the adoption of the current cost basis of measurement. The financial capital maintenance concept, however, does not require the use of a particular basis of measurement. Selection of the basis under this concept is dependent on the type of financial capital that the entity is seeking to maintain.
Par. 107. The principal difference between the two concepts of capital maintenance is the treatment of the effects of changes in the prices of assets and liabilities of the entity. In general terms, an entity has maintained its capital if it has as much capital at the end of the period as it had at the beginning of the period. Any amount over and above that required to maintain the capital at the beginning of the period is profit.
Par. 108. Under the concept of financial capital maintenance where capital is defined in terms of nominal monetary units, profit represents the increase in nominal money capital over the period. Thus, increases in the prices of assets held over the period, conventionally referred to as holding gains, are, conceptually, profits. They may not be recognised as such, however, until the assets are disposed of in an exchange transaction. When the concept of financial capital maintenance is defined in terms of constant purchasing power units, profit represents the increase in invested purchasing power over the period. Thus, only that part of the increase in the prices of assets that exceeds the increase in the general level of prices is regarded as profit. The rest of the increase is treated as a capital maintenance adjustment and, hence, as part of equity.
Par. 109. Under the concept of physical capital maintenance when capital is defined in terms of the physical productive capacity, profit represents the increase in that capital over the period. All price changes affecting the assets and liabilities of the entity are viewed as changes in the measurement of the physical productive capacity of the entity; hence, they are treated as capital maintenance adjustments that are part of equity and not as profit.
Par. 110. The selection of the measurement bases and concept of capital maintenance will determine the accounting model used in the preparation of the financial statements. Different accounting models exhibit different degrees of relevance and reliability and, as in other areas, management must seek a balance between relevance and reliability. This Framework is applicable to a range of accounting models and provides guidance on preparing and presenting the financial statements constructed under the chosen model. At the present time, it is not the intention of the Board of IASC to prescribe a particular model other than in exceptional circumstances, such as for those entities reporting in the currency of a hyper-inflationary economy. This intention will, however, be reviewed in the light of world developments.
IFRS financial statements consist of (IAS1.8)
- a Statement of Financial Position
- a Statement of Comprehensive Income separate statements comprising an Income Statement and separately a Statement of Comprehensive Income, which reconciles Profit or Loss on the Income statement to total comprehensive income
- a Statement of Changes in Equity (SOCE)
- a Cash Flow Statement or Statement of Cash Flows
- notes, including a summary of the significant accounting policies
Comparative information is required for the prior reporting period (IAS 1.36). An entity preparing IFRS accounts for the first time must apply IFRS in full for the current and comparative period although there are transitional exemptions (IFRS1.7).
On 6 September 2007, the IASB issued a revised IAS 1 Presentation of Financial Statements. The main changes from the previous version are to require that an entity must:
- present all non-owner changes in equity (that is, 'comprehensive income' ) either in one Statement of comprehensive income or in two statements (a separate income statement and a statement of comprehensive income). Components of comprehensive income may not be presented in the Statement of changes in equity.
- present a statement of financial position (balance sheet) as of the beginning of the earliest comparative period in a complete set of financial statements when the entity applies the new standard.
- present a statement of cash flow.
- make necessary disclosure by the way of a note.
The revised IAS 1 is effective for annual periods beginning on or after 1 January 2009. Early adoption is permitted.
In 2012 the US Securities and Exchange Commission Staff issued a 127-page report of potential issues with IFRS that would need to be addressed before adoption by the United States. The staff of the IFRS Foundation provided a detailed answer on the main criticisms in the SEC staff report.
A number of criticisms were voiced in the beginning of 2013 in the French media to which the IASB Board member Philippe Danjou responded in his document 'An Update on International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs).'
It is widely acknowledged[by whom?] that IAS 29 Financial Reporting in Hyperinflationary Economies had no positive effect during the six years it was implemented during hyperinflation in Zimbabwe. This led people[who?] to ask the purpose of IAS 29. As of March 2014, IAS 29 was being implemented in its original ineffective form in Venezuela and Belarus. It was suggested to the IASB in 2012[by whom?] that IAS 29 should be corrected to require daily indexation which would result in effective constant purchasing power accounting and would stabilize the non-monetary economy during hyperinflation. The IASB has offered no response to date (March 2014) to this criticism and has not yet altered IAS 29 to require daily indexation.
IFRS Standards are required or permitted in many parts of the world, including South Korea, Brazil, the European Union, India, Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia, Pakistan, GCC countries, Russia, Chile, Philippines, South Africa, Singapore and Turkey.
It is generally expected[by whom?] that IFRS adoption worldwide will be beneficial to investors and other users of financial statements, by reducing the costs of comparing investment opportunities and increasing the quality of information. Companies are also expected to benefit, as investors will be more willing to provide financing. Companies that have high levels of international activities are among the group that would benefit from a switch to IFRS Standards. Companies that are involved in foreign activities and investing benefit from the switch due to the increased comparability of a set accounting standard. However, Ray J. Ball has expressed some scepticism of the overall cost of the international standard; he argues that the enforcement of the standards could be lax, and the regional differences in accounting could become obscured behind a label. He also expressed concerns about the fair value emphasis of IFRS and the influence of accountants from non-common-law regions, where losses have been recognised in a less timely manner.
To assess progress towards the goal of a single set global accounting standards, the IFRS Foundation has developed and posted profiles about the use of IFRS Standards in individual jurisdictions. These are based on information from various sources. The starting point was the responses provided by standard-setting and other relevant bodies to a survey that the IFRS Foundation conducted. As of August 2019, profiles are completed for 166 jurisdictions, with 144 jurisdictions requiring the use of IFRS Standards.
Due to the difficulty of maintaining up-to-date information in individual jurisdictions, three sources of information on current worldwide IFRS adoption are recommended:
Consequences of adopting IFRS
Many researchers have studied the effects of IFRS adoption, and there are debates on whether the effects can be attributed solely to IFRS mandate adoption. For example, one study uses data from 26 countries to study the economic consequences of mandatory IFRS adoption. It shows that, on average, even though market liquidity increases around the time of the introduction of IFRS, it is unclear whether IFRS mandate adoption is the sole reason of observed market effects. Firms’ reporting incentives, law enforcement, and increased comparability of financial reports can also explain the effects.
- List of International Financial Reporting Standards
- Nepal Financial Reporting Standards
- Chinese accounting standards
- Philosophy of Accounting
- International Public Sector Accounting Standards
- Indian Accounting Standards
- Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (Canada)
- Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (France)
- Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (UK)
- Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (United States)
- Capital (economics)
- Center for Audit Quality (CAQ)
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