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What is XBRL?

Tax and Accounting Newsletter

What is XBRL?

XBRL is the open international standard for digital business reporting.

XBRL is the open international standard for digital business reporting, managed by a global not for profit consortium, XBRL International. XBRL is used around the world, in more than 50 countries. Millions of XBRL documents are created every year, replacing older, paper-based reports with more useful, more effective and more accurate digital versions.

In a nutshell, XBRL provides a language in which reporting terms can be authoritatively defined. Those terms can then be used to uniquely represent the contents of financial statements or other kinds of compliance, performance and business reports. XBRL lets reporting information move between organisations rapidly, accurately and digitally.

The change from paper, PDF and HTML based reports to XBRL ones is a little bit like the change from film photography to digital photography, or from paper maps to digital maps. The new format allows you to do all the things that used to be possible, but also opens up a range of new capabilities because the information is clearly defined, platform-independent, testable and digital. Just like digital maps, digital business reports, in XBRL format, simplify the way that people can use, share, analyse and add value to the data.

What does XBRL do?

Often termed “bar codes for reporting”, XBRL makes reporting more accurate and more efficient. It allows unique tags to be associated with reported facts, allowing:

·        people publishing reports to do so with confidence that the information contained in them can be consumed and analysed accurately

·        people consuming reports to test them against a set of business and logical rules, in order to capture and avoid mistakes at their source

·        people using the information to do so in the way that best suits their needs, including by using different languages, alternative currencies and              in their preferred style

·        people consuming the information to do so confident that the data provided to them conforms to a set of sophisticated pre-defined definitions

Which entities are required to comply?

1.      All public listed entities

2.      State owned entities

3.      Companies whose Memorandum of Incorporation prescribes filing of audited financial statements

4.      Any private or personal liability company, if, in the ordinary course of its primary activities, it holds assets in a fiduciary capacity for persons who are not related to the company, and the aggregate value of such assets held at any time during the financial year exceeds R5 million.

5.      Any private or personal liability company that compiles its financial statements internally, (for example, by its financial director or one of the owners) and that has a Public Interest Score (PIS) of 100 or more

6.      Any private or personal liability company that has its financial statements compiled by an independent part (such as an external accountant) and that has a Public Interest Score (PIS) of 350 or more.

If you fall into any one of those categories, or are unsure if you should submit XBRL statements, contact us.