Category Archives: 10-K/10-Q Tips

Details, Details, Details in Inline XBRL

As you have likely heard, in the wake of the SEC’s inline XBRL requirements becoming effective for large accelerated filers for periods after June 15, 2019, on August 20, 2019 the SEC issued several C&DI’s to help implement the new requirements. There was, interestingly, no formal announcement from the SEC about the new C&DI’s in the “What’s New” section of the SEC’s webpage.  Gary Brown, who co-teaches our “SEC Reporting and Practice Skills Workshop for Lawyers” program, and his colleagues at Nelson Mullins have put together a very helpful discussion of the C&DI’s, exploring the new requirements and their impact on tagging the cover pages of Forms 8-K, 10-K and 10-Q along with related questions about exhibits and other areas.

As a reminder, the phase-in for the requirement to use inline XBRL is:

IXBRL Transition

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Disclosure Simplification Four – Wither the S-K 201(d) Table? – Updated!

From its inception, this table required by S-K Item 201(d) has created confusion:


Well, the final version of the Disclosure Update and Simplification Rule created a bit more confusion for me.  As you can read in this November 6, 2018 post the original version of the  Final Rule made changes to where to put the table, but the “conformed and corrected” version published after publication in the Federal Register removed those changes.  So, no changes for the S-K Item 201(d) table!

We also updated our overall summary document you can find here.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Disclosure Update and Simplification – The Details Continue! Post Number Three – Item 5 – Form 10-K Changes

As we blogged on August 21, September 26, and October 3and October 4, the SEC’s 314-page Final Ruledealing with “Disclosure Update and Simplification” makes a myriad of fairly detailed updates to Regulations S-X and S-K, as well as many of the Forms and other rules.

As you may have heard (and can read in this post),the new rule was published in the Federal Register on October 4, 2018.  This means the changes in the new rule are effective for filings made on or after November 5, 2018.  The one caveat to this effective date, as you may have heard, is for the addition to changes in shareholders’ equity information to Form 10-Q, where the SEC issued a C&DIindicating “the staff would not object if the filer’s first presentation of the changes in shareholders’ equity is included in its Form 10-Q for the quarter that begins after the effective date of the amendments.”

You can read about all the related details for the new 10-Q requirement to present changes in shareholders’ equity in this post.

Just in case you have not seen it, the SEC published what they are calling a “demonstration version” with the final rule that shows all the changes to Regulation S-K, S-X, the Instructions to the Forms and other related guidance. 

In this post we focus on changes to S-K Item 201, which is included in Item 5 of Form 10-K.  Here is the list of changes from the final rule:

Amend § 229.201 by:

a. Revising paragraph (a)(1)(i);

b. Removing paragraph (a)(1)(ii), redesignating paragraph (a)(1)(iii) as paragraph (a)(1)(ii), revising newly redesignated paragraph (a)(1)(ii) and adding new paragraph (a)(1)(iii);

c. Removing paragraphs (a)(1)(iv) and (v);

d. Removing and reserving paragraphs (a)(2)(i) and (c)(1) and Instruction 1 to the Instructions to Item 201;

e. Redesignating Instructions 1 through 5 to Item 201 consecutively as Instruction 1 to Item 201, Instruction 2 to Item 201, Instruction 3 to Item 201, Instruction 4 to Item 201 and Instruction 5 to Item 201; and

f. Revising newly redesignated Instruction 2 to Item 201.

To help you get started making changes for your next Form 10-K and 10-Q, here are the details:

  1. For the first change, paragraph (a)(1)(i), which requires information about stock trading, will now read:

(i) Identify the principal United States market(s) and the corresponding trading symbol(s) for each class of the registrant’s common equity. In the case of foreign registrants, also identify the principal foreign public trading market(s), if any, and the corresponding trading symbol(s) for each class of the registrant’s common equity.

The changes in this paragraph are:

1. The addition of disclosure of your ticker symbol

2. The removal of a requirement to make disclosures where there is no established trading market, which has been moved to new (a)(2)(ii)

  1. The paragraph that has been deleted, (a)(1)(ii), was the requirement to disclose stock price information by quarter for the last two years:

(ii) If the principal United States market for such common equity is an exchange, state the high and low sales prices for the equity for each full quarterly period within the two most recent fiscal years and any subsequent interim period for which financial statements are included, or are required to be included by Article 3-01 through 3-04 of Regulation S-X (§210.3-01 through 3-04 of this chapter), or Article 8-02 through 8-03 of Regulation S-X (§210.8-02 through 8-03 of this chapter) in the case of smaller reporting companies, as reported in the consolidated transaction reporting system or, if not so reported, as reported on the principal exchange market for such equity.

The change here is that disclosure of stock price by quarter for the last two years is no longer required.


  1. The new paragraph (a)(1)(ii) now reads:

(ii) If the principal United States market for such common equity is not an exchange, indicate, as applicable, that any over-the-counter market quotations reflect inter-dealer prices, without retail mark-up, mark-down or commission and may not necessarily represent actual transactions.

The change here is that disclosure of stock price, or absent a market, bid price information for the last two years by quarter is no longer required, similar to the change in number 2 above.


  1. The new paragraph (a)(1)(iii) now reads:

  (iii) Where there is no established public trading market for a class of common equity, furnish a statement to that effect and, if applicable, state the range of high and low bid information for each full quarterly period within the two most recent fiscal years and any subsequent interim period for which financial statements are included, or are required to be included by 17 CFR 210.3-01 through 210.3-20 (Article 3 of Regulation S-X), indicating the source of such quotations. Reference to quotations shall be qualified by appropriate explanation. For purposes of this Item the existence of limited or sporadic quotations should not of itself be deemed to constitute an “established public trading market.”

This new paragraph essentially continues the old disclosure requirements for situations where a company’s stock does not have an “established public trading market”

  1. The next change is the removal of these two paragraphs, (a)(1)(iv) and (a)(1)(iv):

(iv) Where a foreign registrant has identified a principal established foreign trading market for its common equity pursuant to paragraph (a)(1) of this Item, also provide market price information comparable, to the extent practicable, to that required for the principal United States market, including the source of such information. Such prices shall be stated in the currency in which they are quoted. The registrant may translate such prices into United States currency at the currency exchange rate in effect on the date the price disclosed was reported on the foreign exchange. If the primary United States market for the registrant’s common equity trades using American Depositary Receipts, the United States prices disclosed shall be on that basis.

(v) If the information called for by this Item is being presented in a registration statement filed pursuant to the Securities Act or a proxy or information statement filed pursuant to the Exchange Act, the document also shall include price information as of the latest practicable date, and, in the case of securities to be issued in connection with an acquisition, business combination or other reorganization, as of the date immediately prior to the public announcement of such transaction.

This change removes the requirement for stock price information for companies whose stock trades on a non-US exchange, similar to the change for stock traded on US exchanges, as well as certain stock price information in registration statements.

  1. The next paragraph removed, (a)(2)(i), is part of a 33Act registration statement requirement for disclosures about shares subject to option when a company in registration does not have a currently active public market. Company’s in this situation had to disclose the amount of shares:

(i) That is subject to outstanding options or warrants to purchase, or securities convertible into, common equity of the registrant;

Since this information is readily available in the financial statements, the S-K disclosure is removed.

  1. The next paragraph removed, (c)(1), is information about dividends, which is available in the financial statements, hence the elimination of this paragraph:

(1) State the frequency and amount of any cash dividends declared on each class of its common equity by the registrant for the two most recent fiscal years and any subsequent interim period for which financial statements are required to be presented by §210.3 of Regulation S-X. Where there are restrictions (including, where appropriate, restrictions on the ability of registrant’s subsidiaries to transfer funds to the registrant in the form of cash dividends, loans or advances) that currently materially limit the registrant’s ability to pay such dividends or that the registrant reasonably believes are likely to limit materially the future payment of dividends on the common equity so state and either (i) describe briefly (where appropriate quantify) such restrictions, or (ii) cross reference to the specific discussion of such restrictions in the Management’s Discussion and Analysis of financial condition and operating results prescribed by Item 303 of Regulation S-K (§229.303) and the description of such restrictions required by Regulation S-X in the registrant’s financial statements.

  1. The last changes made for S-K Item 201 are some adjustments to the instructions. First, Instruction 1 is removed as it is no longer relevant:

Registrants, the common equity of which is listed for trading on more than one securities exchange registered under the Exchange Act, are required to indicate each such exchange pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)(i) of this Item; such registrants, however, need only report one set of price quotations pursuant to paragraph (a)(1)(ii) of this Item; where available, these shall be the prices as reported in the consolidated transaction reporting system and, where the prices are not so reported, the prices on the most significant (in terms of volume) securities exchange for such shares

Next, Instruction 2 is revised to reference bid information:

Market prices and dividends Bid informationreported pursuant to this Item shall be adjusted to give retroactive effect to material changes resulting from stock dividends, stock splits and reverse stock splits


As we saw with the changes to Item 1, none of the changes here to Item 5 are earth shattering, but there is a fair amount of detail.

You might think this is enough for S-K Item 201, but there is actually another change that is kind of hidden in the other sections of the rule.  It turns out the table required by S-K Item 201(d) for equity compensation plans will move from Item 12 to Item 5 and no longer be required in the proxy statement.  Our next post will have all the details of that change.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!


Disclosure Update and Simplification – The Details Continue! Post Number Two – Form 10-Q – Information About Changes in Shareholders’ Equity and Some Help From the SEC

As we blogged on August 21 and September 17, the SEC’s 314-page Final Ruledealing with “Disclosure Update and Simplification” makes a myriad of fairly detailed updates to Regulations S-X and S-K, as well as many of the Forms and other rules.

These changes are effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.  As of the date of this post, October 3, 2018, the final rule has not been published in the Federal Register.

This means that these changes may or may not be in effect for the period ended September 30, 2018. This would be true for both quarterly and annual periods.  If your filing has a due date more than 30 days after publication the new rule would apply, so stay tuned!

In this post we will go into the details of the much-discussed new requirement to add information about changes in shareholder’s equity to Form 10-Q.

In S-X Article 10, the source of the financial statement requirements in Form 10-Q, before this change, there was no requirement to provide information about changes in shareholder’sequity.  Many companies voluntarily provided this information, but it was not actually required.

There was a requirement to include this information with annual financial statements.  The source for this requirement was, and continues to be, Regulation S-X Rule 3-04, which after a minor update to include “comprehensive income” is:

  • 210.3-04 Changes in stockholders’ equity and noncontrolling interests.

An analysis of the changes in each caption of stockholders’ equity and noncontrolling interests presented in the balance sheets shall be given in a note or separate statement. This analysis shall be presented in the form of a reconciliation of the beginning balance to the ending balance for each period for which a statement of comprehensive income is required to be filed with all significant reconciling items described by appropriate captions with contributions from and distributions to owners shown separately. Also, state separately the adjustments to the balance at the beginning of the earliest period presented for items which were retroactively applied to periods prior to that period. With respect to any dividends, state the amount per shareand in the aggregate for each class of shares. Provide a separate schedule in the notes to the financial statements that shows the effects of any changes in the registrant’s ownership interest in a subsidiary on the equity attributable to the registrant.

In the Disclosure Update and Simplification Final Rule, the SEC made a subtle, almost sneaky change.  When updating and simplifying Regulation S-X, they added this short requirement to S-X Rule 10-01:

(7) Provide the information required by §210.3-04 for the current and comparative year-to-date periods, with subtotals for each interim period.

And, with that addition, we now have to include changes in shareholder’s equity information in Form 10-Q for the current quarter, the year to date and comparative prior year periods.  The information can be in a separate statement or a note.  As a side note, changes in non-controlling interest would be included also, just as they are in a full fiscal year presentation.

As a quick follow-up, the same requirement was added to S-X Article 8, the financial statement requirements for Smaller Reporting Companies, so SRC’s will also have to provide this information.

The timing of the change is up-in-the-air a bit because, as mentioned above, the final rule has not yet been published in the Federal Register.  And, as is the case with such rules, it would be effective for filings made after the effective date, meaning a third-quarter-end Form 10-Q may or may not be after this date when we finally know the date!

To reduce this confusion the staff issued a very helpful C&DI on September 25, 2018.  It says:

Question 105.09

Question: On August 17, 2018, the SEC adopted amendments to certain disclosure requirements in Securities Act Release No. 33-10532, Disclosure Update and Simplification. The amendments will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. Among the amendments is the requirement to present the changes in shareholders’ equity in the interim financial statements (either in a separate statement or footnote) in quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. Refer to Rules 8-03(a)(5) and 10-01(a)(7) of Regulation S-X. When are filers expected to comply with this new requirement?

Answer: The amendments are effective for all filings made 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. In light of the anticipated timing of effectiveness of the amendments and expected proximity of effectiveness to the filing date for most filers’ quarterly reports, the staff would not object if the filer’s first presentation of the changes in shareholders’ equity is included in its Form 10-Q for the quarter that begins after the effective date of the amendments. For example, assuming an effective date of October 25, a December 31 fiscal year-end filer could omit this disclosure from its September 30, 2018 Form 10-Q. Likewise, a June 30 fiscal year-end filer could omit this disclosure from its September 30, 2018 and December 31, 2018 Forms 10-Q; however, the staff would object if it did not provide the disclosures in its March 31, 2019 Form 10-Q. (Sept. 25, 2018)

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

A Quick Reminder to Update for Changes in Accounting Policies (Especially Revenue Recognition!) for Quarter-End

It is hard to sit in a room with more than one accountant and not hear talk about the impact of the new revenue recognition standard.  Even with that level of buzz, check out this excerpt from a real company’s Form 10-Q upon adoption of the new revenue recognition standard:

Accounting Standards Update.

On January 1, 2018 we adopted the Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) topic 606, Revenue from Contracts with Customers. Under this new standard our significant accounting policy for revenue is as follows:

Revenue: Revenue is recognized at the time 1) persuasive evidence of an arrangement exists, 2) services have been rendered, 3) the sales price is fixed and determinable and 4) collectability is reasonably assured.We generally recognize revenue over time because of continuous transfer of control to the customer. Since control is transferred over time, revenue and related transportation costs are recognized based on relative transit time, which is based on the extent of progress towards completion of the related performance obligation. We enter into contracts that can include various combinations of services, which are capable of being distinct and accounted for as separate performance obligations. We account for a contract when it has approval and commitment from both parties, the rights of the parties are identified, payment terms are identified, the contract has commercial substance and collectability of consideration is probable. Taxes assessed by a governmental authority that are both imposed on and concurrent with a specific revenue-producing transaction, that are collected by the Company from a customer, are excluded from revenue. Further, in most cases, we report our revenue on a gross basis because we are the primary obligor as we are responsible for providing the service desired by the customer. Our customers view us as responsible for fulfillment including the acceptability of the service. Services requirements may include, for example, on-time delivery, handling freight loss and damage claims, setting up appointments for pick-up and delivery and tracing shipments in transit. We have discretion in setting sales prices and as a result, the amount we earn varies. In addition, we have the discretion to select our vendors from multiple suppliers for the services ordered by our customers. These factors, discretion in setting prices and discretion in selecting vendors, further support reporting revenue on a gross basis for most of our revenue.

Clearly the language bolded above is the old ASC 605 accounting standard, not the new ASC 606 accounting standard!  Here is an example of the language based on the new standard, courtesy of one of the early adopters, Workday:

Revenue Recognition

We derive our revenues primarily from subscription services and professional services. Revenues are recognized when control of these services is transferred to our customers, in an amount that reflects the consideration we expect to be entitled to in exchange for those services.

We determine revenue recognition through the following steps:

  • Identification of the contract, or contracts, with a customer
  • Identification of the performance obligations in the contract
  • Determination of the transaction price
  • Allocation of the transaction price to the performance obligations in the contract
  • Recognition of revenue when, or as, we satisfy a performance obligation

Subscription Services Revenues

Subscription services revenues primarily consist of fees that provide customers access to one or more of our cloud applications for finance, human resources, and analytics, with routine customer support. Revenue is generally recognized on a ratable basis over the contract term beginning on the date that our service is made available to the customer. Our subscription contracts are generally three years or longer in length, billed annually in advance, and non- cancelable.

Professional Services Revenues

Professional services revenues primarily consist of fees for deployment and optimization services, as well as training. The majority of our consulting contracts are billed on a time and materials basis and revenue is recognized over time as the services are performed. For contracts billed on a fixed price basis, revenue is recognized over time based on the proportion performed.

Contracts with Multiple Performance Obligations

Some of our contracts with customers contain multiple performance obligations. For these contracts, we account for individual performance obligations separately if they are distinct. The transaction price is allocated to the separate performance obligations on a relative standalone selling price basis. We determine the standalone selling prices based on our overall pricing objectives, taking into consideration market conditions and other factors, including the value of our contracts, the cloud applications sold, customer demographics, geographic locations, and the number and types of users within our contracts.

So, as mundane as it seems, this tip is to be sure you have addressed new standards and related changes in your accounting policy disclosures!

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

June 2018 Quarter End Post One – A Picky Reminder – Attention to Detail and the Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations

In our SEC Reporting Skills Workshop we always mention the importance of getting details right in your periodic and current reports.  Little picky mistakes could give an experienced reader a negative impression of your overall reporting.

One simple example of such a detail is the Form 10-K cover page check-box S-K Item 405 disclosures about Section 16 reporting by insiders.  It is surprising how many companies don’t get this check box right. The box should be checked if all Section 16 people filed all their required reports on a timely basis.  A knowledgeable reader, when they see a mistake with this cover page item, may ask “what else did this company not get right?”  (As a side note, thank goodness this confusion may finally be eliminated if this part of the FAST Act Modernization and Simplification of Regulation S-K proposal is made final!   You can check out page 33 in this proposed rule release.)

In the world of SEC reporting we all get to learn as we make mistakes and also from the mistakes of others. Here is a kind of unfortunate example of a company that made a mistake in one of the pickier parts of a filing, the certifications, and then missed a detail in the follow-up.

S-K Item 601, paragraph 31, which sets out the form of the certifications, contains this language:

(31)(i) Rule 13a-14(a)/15d-14(a) Certifications. The certifications required by Rule 13a-14(a) (17 CFR 240.13a-14(a)) or Rule 15d-14(a) (17 CFR 240.15d-14(a)) exactly as set forth below:

Certifications* I, [identify the certifying individual], certify that:

  1. I have reviewed this [specify report] of [identify registrant]; (remainder omitted)

Well, as you can see on Exhibit 31of this Form 10-K, this company made a simple mistake.  They forgot to update the language in the certification, unfortunately referring to a Form 10-Q rather than Form 10-K.  OK, these kinds of things happen to all of us, and this situation is at least easy to fix.  It would appear, from the order of the company’s filings, that they found the mistake on their own, and filed this amendment.

Unfortunately, the company forgot to check one of the sources of guidance we emphasize in our workshops, the CorpFin Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations.  This is the relevant C&DI, which is included in the S-K Item 601 Exhibits section of the C&DI’s:

246.14 The following errors in a certification required by Item 601(b)(31) are examples of errors that will require the company to file a corrected certification that is accompanied by the entire periodic report: (1) the company identifies the wrong periodic report in paragraph 1 of the certification; (2) the certification omits a conformed signature above the signature line at the end of the certification; (3) the certification fails to include a date; and (4) the individuals who sign the certification are neither the company’s principal executive officer nor the principal financial officer, or persons performing equivalent functions. [July 3, 2008]

That lead to the company getting this comment from the SEC:

Amendment No. 1 to Form 10-K for the Fiscal Year Ended December 29, 2017

  1. Please file an amendment to your Form 10-K that includes the entire filing. Refer to Compliance & Disclosure Interpretation No. 246.14 on Regulation S-K.

It is always a bit embarrassing to have to amend an amendment.  And, this is a great reminder that when you are dealing with issues that are not part of your regular reporting process to always check all the sources of guidance from the SEC. The C&DI’s in particular deal with a huge variety of process questions, disclosures and tactical issues and are always a good resource to check.

As a PS, the company did get the Section 16 box right!  The box is checked, and their proxy indicates that to the best of the company’s knowledge everyone filed all required reports on time.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!


Faulty Cybersecurity Disclosures and a Big Fine

Here is an issue to focus on as we draw to the end of the second quarter and plan our periodic reporting.

Rarely does a month pass without dramatic news stories about cybersecurity breaches.  Targets include large companies such as Equifax, not-for-profits such as hospitals and even government agencies like the SEC.

Earlier this year the SEC augmented their 2011 cybersecurity disclosure guidance in CorpFin Disclosure Topic Twowith a formal Commission Release.  As we blogged,the Release in large part reinforced the Disclosure Topic Two guidance and added guidance about control and insider trading issues.

When the SEC issues new guidance one of the ways they sometimes emphasize its importance is with an enforcement case.  And, that has happened here.  Altaba, Inc, which was formerly Yahoo, has been fined $35 million for failure to make timely and accurate disclosures about their major cybersecurity breach. As you may have read, there was a significant delay in disclosure of the breach on the part of Altaba (Yahoo), and the enforcement release highlights several other disclosure issues surrounding the breach, including the fact that Yahoo’s disclosure controls and procedures were not effective.  Here is a quote from Jina Choi, the San Francisco Regional Office Director:

“Yahoo’s failure to have controls and procedures in place to assess its cyber-disclosure obligations ended up leaving its investors totally in the dark about a massive data breach.  Public companies should have controls and procedures in place to properly evaluate cyber incidents and disclose material information to investors.”

You can read details here.

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

10-K Tip Number One for 2016

Happy New Year from all of us at the SEC Institute Division at PLI! We hope your new year is beginning well and if you are working on closing year-end December 31, 2015 that all is proceeding smoothly.

Last week, on January 7, 2016, Carol and George (that being us of course, the bloggers you are reading now!) presented a One-Hour Briefing, “PLI’s Second Annual Form 10-K Tune-up”. In the briefing we discussed three broad groups of issues to think about this year-end. These were New and Emerging Issues, Recurring Issues, and SEC Staff Focus Areas. Here is the complete list of the topics we discussed in the One-Hour Briefing:

  • New and Emerging Issues
    • Customer accounting for fees paid for cloud computing arrangements
    • PCAOB AS 18 Related Parties – impacts both auditors & registrants
    • PCAOB AS 17 Auditing Supplemental Info Accompanying Audited F/S
    • Audit Committee disclosure
    • ICFR and COSO
  • Recurring Issues
    • SAB 74 disclosures for Revenue Recognition and others
    • Disclosure effectiveness
    • Cybersecurity
    • Conflict minerals & Form SD disclosure
  • SEC Staff Focus Areas
    • Segments – focus on ASU 280
    • Statement of Cash Flows
    • Income taxes
    • Fair value
    • Foreign Exchange Rates, Commodity Prices, and Interest Rates


You can hear everything we discussed in an On-Demand version of the Briefing that will be available soon.

To augment the Briefing we are writing a series of blog posts to dive more deeply into each of the areas we discussed than the one-hour time limit allowed.

The first issue, customer accounting for fees paid for cloud computing arrangements, relates to ASU 2015-5. This ASU is effective for public business entities for periods beginning after December 15, 2015. For other entities the effective date is one year later.

One of the major issues in this new standard is that costs associated with a contract may be accounted for differently depending on whether the contract involves a software license or is only a service contract.

To get to that issue we need to review the major provisions of the ASU.

This project arose with the increase in the use of “cloud” based computing systems. These generally include “software as a service agreements” (SaaS) and other types of “software hosting” arrangements. There was no clear guidance about how customers should account for such arrangements. As a consequence, it was unclear whether these were software contracts subject to software accounting guidance or simply service contracts or perhaps a hybrid of the two accounting areas.

The ASU puts paragraph 350-40-15-4A into the ASC section dealing with internal use software:

“The guidance in this Subtopic applies only to internal-use software that a customer obtains access to in a hosting arrangement if both of the following criteria are met:

  1. The customer has the contractual right to take possession of the software at any time during the hosting period without significant penalty.
  2. It is feasible for the customer to either run the software on its own hardware or contract with another party unrelated to the vendor to host the software.”

If the above criteria are not met then the contract does not involve a software license and is a service contact.

The key issue here is that if the two criteria are met, then the agreement is treated as a multiple element arrangement and the costs are allocated between the software license and a service element associated with the hosting contract. The costs associated with the software license fall into the guidance for costs related to internal use software, or if appropriate, another software model such as software to be used in research and development.

On the other hand, if there is no software license element, then the contract is treated as any other service contract.

The financial reporting implications of this distinction can affect issues such as balance sheet classification, since a software license would be accounted for as an asset in appropriate circumstances, i.e. if it was paid for in advance. Income statement geography can also be affected as software amortization versus service contract expense could be in different income statement line items. And, it is possible that the amount of costs recognized in each period could be different.

This perhaps more complex issue depends on whether the arrangement includes a software license. If it does include a software license the internal use software guidance applies. The expense recognition part of this guidance is articulated in ASC 350-40-30:

30-1     Costs of computer software developed or obtained for internal use that shall be capitalized include only the following:

  1. External direct costs of materials and services consumed in developing or obtaining internal-use computer software. Examples of those costs include but are not limited to the following:
  2. Fees paid to third parties for services provided to develop the software during the application development stage
  3. Costs incurred to obtain computer software from third parties
  4. Travel expenses incurred by employees in their duties directly associated with developing software.
  5. Payroll and payroll-related costs (for example, costs of employee benefits) for employees who are directly associated with and who devote time to the internal-use computer software project, to the extent of the time spent directly on the project. Examples of employee activities include but are not limited to coding and testing during the application development stage.
  6. Interest costs incurred while developing internal-use computer software. Interest shall be capitalized in accordance with the provisions of Subtopic 835-20.

These costs can even include the costs of data conversion.

For service contracts, there is no such guidance. And here in fact lies the more problematic issue. If a cloud based computing arrangement includes a software license the internal use software guidance for costs may require capitalization of costs that would not be capitalized if the contract is only a service contract. Thus the amount of expense recognized for an arrangement could be different if it has a software license or does not have a software license. If you have this situation, careful analysis is crucial!

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

Disclosure Simplification? That was too easy for GE, they went so much further!

In one of our June workshops a participant brought the most recent GE Form 10-K into the group’s discussions. GE has dramatically redesigned their Form 10-K to be a communication focused document.

If it weren’t for the cover page, most SEC reporting professionals would not even recognize this filing as a 10-K. Right after the cover page is a picture of a GE worker and this is followed by an executive summary. It looks like an annual report to shareholders at first, but no, it is the ACTUAL FORM 10-K! It even has colors!

The document is organized differently to tell GE’s story in a meaningful and engaging way. When you think Form 10-K you usually think of a lock-step structure of Parts and Items, and this structure does not appear at all in this narrative document. GE has used General Instruction C.1. in a very innovative way. This instruction says:

  1. Preparation of Report.
    1. (1)  This form is not to be used as a blank form to be filled in, but only as a guide in the preparation of the report on paper meeting the requirements of Rule 12b-12. Except as provided in General Instruction G, the answers to the items shall be prepared in the manner specified in Rule 12b-13.

GE completely redesigned the structure and the flow. GE did not follow the lock-step format of the Form 10-K Parts and Items. Instead they reorganized the content into a logical structure and flow. In addition, you will see a variety of font sizes and headings, pictures, graphics and other tools to make information easier to follow and understand. (All of course looking back to the concepts of Plain English.)

When we here at the blog first read the document we wondered how it could even be grounded in the Form 10-K instructions, but check out page 231. Here is the linkage to the instructions. In the order of the Parts and Items in the Form 10-K instructions GE cross references to where the required disclosures are in their new 10-K.

The investment in improvement and change in this document is, well, WOW!

You can find the 10-K at:

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome and appreciated!

10-K Tip – Another S-K Item 201 Oddity

Over the years S-K Item 201 has been amended, updated and added to on several occasions. As a result it has become a bit of a disclosure hodge-podge. It contains more than a few twists and turns, and we explored one of them in our last post about the performance graph from S-K item 201(e) that does not have to be in the Form 10-K.

This post is about another twisty disclosure rule, and is also a reminder that the Compliance and Disclosure Interpretations from CorpFin can be really helpful. You can find them all at:

This S-K Item 201 twist surrounds the equity compensation table that is required by S-K 201(d). At first reading, you would not think there is even an issue. The instructions to Form 10-K seem clear:

Item 5. Market for Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities.

(a)  Furnish the information required by Item 201 of Regulation S-K (17 CFR 229.201) and …(rest of the instruction omitted as it is not relevant).

With this straightforward instruction it would seem everything required by S-K Item 201 should be included in Item 5 of the 10-K, including S-K 201(d):

(d) Securities authorized for issuance under equity compensation plans
(1) In the following tabular format, provide the information specified in paragraph (d)(2) of this Item as of the end of the most recently completed fiscal year with respect to compensation plans (including individual compensation arrangements) under which equity securities of the registrant are authorized for issuance, aggregated as follows:

(i) All compensation plans previously approved by security holders; and
(ii) All compensation plans not previously approved by security holders.

However, this seemingly straightforward issue gets disrupted when you get to Item 12 in the Form 10-K instructions which says:

Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters.

Furnish the information required by Item 201(d) of Regulation S-K (§ 229.201(d) of this chapter) and Item 403 of Regulation S-K (§ 229.403 of this chapter).

So, where is the appropriate place in the Form 10-K for this table? For a while many people read the instructions very literally and put the table in both Item 5 and Item 12! Eventually the common sense approach of the SEC, i.e. you don’t really need it twice, was clarified in this Compliance and Disclosure Interpretation:

Regulation S-K: Section 106. Item 201 — Market Price of and Dividends on the Registrant’s Common Equity and Related Stockholder Matters

Question 106.01

Question: Is the Item 201(d) disclosure required in Part II of Form 10-K, given that Item 5 of Form 10-K indicates that the registrant is required to furnish the information required under Item 201, or should the Item 201(d) disclosure be included (or incorporated by reference) in Part III of Form 10-K given that Item 12 indicates that the registrant is required to furnish the information required under Item 201(d)?

Answer: The Item 201(d) disclosure should be included in Part III, Item 12 of Form 10-K. An issuer may rely on General Instruction G.3 to Form 10-K to incorporate by reference the Item 201(d) disclosure from its proxy statement or information statement, even if the issuer did not submit a compensation plan for security holder action at its annual meeting of security holders. See American Bar Association (Jan. 30, 2004). [Mar. 13, 2007]

This one is pretty picky, but always good to get the details right! It also shows one facet of the SEC staff’s interpretive process, as the CDI resulted from an interpretive request from the ABA, which is linked to Reg S-K’s CDI 106.1.

As always your thoughts and comments are welcome!