Tag Archives: Taxonomy

A Bit of SEC News and a Hopefully Enjoyable Video

By: George M. Wilson & Carol A. Stacey

In the first few weeks of the new Administration there was news from the SEC including reconsideration of the Conflict Minerals and Pay Ratio disclosures as well as the legislative repeal of the Resource Extraction Payment disclosure.

While there have not been as many highly publicized developments in recent weeks, the Commission is continuing its normal business. A final rule for Hyperlinks to Exhibits, a proposal to for Inline XBRL, approving an XBRL Taxonomy for IFRS, and a Request for Comment to consider changes to Bank Holding Company Disclosures in Guide 3 are a few of the normal course of business things going on at the SEC. The Enforcement Division continues its normal process with cases ranging from an auditor trading on inside information to a Ponzi scheme involving resale of Hamilton tickets. And, of course, CorpFin continues its review program, and after reviewing over 50% of all companies last year it will be interesting to see the numbers this year.

In a way, especially with so many of our SEC reporting community working on year-end and quarter-end reports, it is nice to have a normal flow of work from the SEC instead of big stories!

So, enjoy the lull! And, to have a bit of fun in this lull, here is a hopefully entertaining diversion. The SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy has, via its investor.gov website, produced a number of educational videos for investors. This one, titled “Don’t let someone else live the life you’ve been saving for”, is particularly entertaining! Enjoy!



As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!

A non-GAAP Measure Subtle Trap

One of the more complex traps when presenting non-GAAP measures is this question:

Which source of SEC non-GAAP measure guidance applies to your earnings release:

Reg G, or

S-K Item 10(e)?

In case you are not familiar with Reg G and S-K Item 10(e) and when each of them applies:

Reg G applies when you use a non-GAAP measure in a non-filed source, and

S-K Item 10(e) applies when you use a non-GAAP measure in a filed document.

You can learn more about these two non-GAAP rules in some of the earlier posts on our blog. Here is a post with the basics:




You can also check out our one-hour briefing about non-GAAP measures from March 2016 at:



The trap here is this: You might believe that since an earnings release is not a filed document Reg G is the applicable guidance, and all you have to do is present the most directly comparable GAAP measure and provide a reconciliation.

That is NOT the case. The reason that S-K Item 10(e) applies to your earnings release is actually very subtle. It is in the instructions to Form 8-K. Tucked away in the earnings release 8-K, Item 2.02, is this instruction:


  1. The requirements of paragraph (e)(1)(i) of Item 10 of Regulation S-K (17 CFR 229.10(e)(1)(i)) shall apply to disclosures under this Item 2.02.


Thus, the first part of S-K Item 10(e) DOES apply to your earnings release, even though it is not “filed” and even though the Item 2.02 8-K is not a filed document!


So, to be very detailed, this part of S-K Item 10(e) applies to year earnings release (there are other requirements in S-K Item 10(e) that do not apply, we won’t list them here):


(e) Use of non-GAAP financial measures in Commission filings. (1) Whenever one or more non-GAAP financial measures are included in a filing with the Commission:


(i) The registrant must include the following in the filing:

(A) A presentation, with equal or greater prominence, of the most directly comparable financial measure or measures calculated and presented in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP);


(B) A reconciliation (by schedule or other clearly understandable method), which shall be quantitative for historical non-GAAP measures presented, and quantitative, to the extent available without unreasonable efforts, for forward-looking information, of the differences between the non-GAAP financial measure disclosed or released with the most directly comparable financial measure or measures calculated and presented in accordance with GAAP identified in paragraph (e)(1)(i)(A) of this section;


(C) A statement disclosing the reasons why the registrant’s management believes that presentation of the non-GAAP financial measure provides useful information to investors regarding the registrant’s financial condition and results of operations; and


(D) To the extent material, a statement disclosing the additional purposes, if any, for which the registrant’s management uses the non-GAAP financial measure that are not disclosed pursuant to paragraph (e)(1)(i)(C) of this section; and


One area the staff will comment on is the “equal or greater prominence” requirement in paragraph (A) above. Here is an example comment:


  1. We note that in the Financial Highlights section of your press release furnished on Form 8-K, you disclose Total Segment EBITDA, a non-GAAP financial measure, without the disclosure of the most comparable GAAP measure. Please note that under Item 10(e)(1)(i)(A) when a non-GAAP financial measure is presented, the most directly comparable financial measure calculated in accordance with GAAP must be disclosed with equal or greater prominence. Please revise accordingly. See also Instruction 2 to Item 2.02 of Form 8-K.


As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome!



Non-GAAP Measures in the News

How companies use non-GAAP measures is one of the “hot topics” that we post about frequently. This is not just because we think it is interesting. (Although we do!). More to the point, it is a subject of frequent SEC comment, and in the last several weeks both SEC Chair Mary Jo White and Chief Accountant James Schnurr have expressed their concern about more aggressive use of non-GAAP measures. And a recent report from FACTSET (mentioned in more detail below) bears out this concern.

Carol and George, your blog authors, recently did a One-Hour Briefing about Non-GAAP measures.

You can find the archived One-Hour Briefing at:



In the Briefing we included this quote from Mr. Schnurr’s March 22, 2016 speech to the 12’th Annual Life Sciences Accounting and Reporting Congress in Philadelphia, PA:


Non-GAAP measures

Before I conclude today’s remarks, I’d like to provide my perspectives on non-GAAP measures, which is a topic that continues to receive attention from investors, those at the SEC, as well as the general news media.

The Commission adopted rules in 2003 addressing the disclosure of non-GAAP financial measures, both generally and with respect to inclusion in SEC filings. While the Commission’s rules allow companies to provide non-GAAP measures to investors as alternative measures that supplement information in the financial statements, the rules are clear that the non-GAAP measures must not be misleading. The SEC staff has observed a significant and, in some respects, troubling increase over the past few years in the use of, and nature of adjustments within, non-GAAP measures by companies as well prominence that the analysts and media have accorded such measures when reporting on the results of the companies they cover.


Non-GAAP measures are intended to supplement the information in the financial statements and not supplant the information in the financial statements. However, when the financial news networks report quarterly earnings, they very frequently report the non-GAAP measure of earnings with no reference to the actual GAAP earnings, often not even identifying it as having been adjusted. In addition, I am particularly troubled by the extent and nature of the adjustments to arrive at alternative financial measures of profitability, as compared to net income, and alternative measures of cash generation, as compared to the measures of liquidity or cash generation. In my view, preparers should carefully consider whether significant adjustments to profitability outside of customary measures such as EBITDA or non-recurring items or other charges to the business, such as the sale of portions of the business in order to provide the user with an understanding of how these events impact trends and future performance, are appropriate. As it relates to cash measures, I believe those measures should be reconciled to cash flow from operations.


Staff in the Division of Corporation Finance continues to monitor non-GAAP disclosures as part of its selective review process and regularly issues comments on this issue. The staff also provides guidance on the application of Commission rules through speeches and other mechanisms — and of course, staff comment letters are publicly available. You can expect that the staff will continue to be vigilant in their review of the use of these measures for compliance with the rules.


The proliferation of non-GAAP reporting measures among registrants, and reliance and reporting by analysts, should warrant increased focus by management and the audit committee. I believe the focus should go beyond determinations that the measures comply with the Commission’s rules and include probing questions on why, in contrast to the GAAP measure, the non-GAAP measure is an appropriate way to measure the company’s performance and is useful to investors. In addition, companies should ensure that the measure is prepared in a manner that includes appropriate controls and oversight procedures.


You can find the whole speech at:



Chair White’s Speech at an AICPA conference in December included these remarks:

  • Another financial reporting topic of shared interest and current conversation is the use of non-GAAP measures.  This area deserves close attention, both to make sure that our current rules are being followed and to ask whether they are sufficiently robust in light of current market practices.  Non-GAAP measures are allowed in order to convey information to investors that the issuer believes is relevant and useful in understanding its performance.  By some indications, such as analyst coverage and press commentary, non-GAAP measures are used extensively and, in some instances, may be a source of confusion.
  • Like every other issue of financial reporting, good practices in the use of non-GAAP measures begin with preparers.  While your chief financial officer and investor relations team may be quite enamored of non-GAAP measures as useful market communication devices, your finance and legal teams, along with your audit committees, should carefully attend to the use of these measures and consider questions such as:
    • Why are you using the non-GAAP measure, and how does it provide investors with useful information?
    • Are you giving non-GAAP measures no greater prominence than the GAAP measures, as required under the rules?
    • Are your explanations of how you are using the non-GAAP measures – and why they are useful for your investors – accurate and complete, drafted without boilerplate?
    • Are there appropriate controls over the calculation of non-GAAP measures?


So, the message has clearly been sent, be thoughtful about the use of non-GAAP measures and be careful to not be misleading.


How are companies responding to these messages?

For now, it does not look like they are listening. FACTSET has done a very detailed study that includes all the earnings releases for the Dow Jones Industrial Average companies for their most recent year-end. Their results are available at:




Their findings are very dramatic. For companies that released a non-GAAP earnings measure the difference between GAAP EPS and non-GAAP EPS from 2014 to 2015 widened from 11.8% to 30.7%. And that is just one of may statistics that highlight growing differences between GAAP and non-GAAP measures. Of course, the non-GAAP measures all seem to look better…


So, we suggest careful review by your audit committee and management of the use of non-GAAP measures. And, be sure to look back to the comments above and ask the questions Chair White asked:


  • Why are you using the non-GAAP measure, and how does it provide investors with useful information?
  • Are you giving non-GAAP measures no greater prominence than the GAAP measures, as required under the rules?
  • Are your explanations of how you are using the non-GAAP measures – and why they are useful for your investors – accurate and complete, drafted without boilerplate?
  • Are there appropriate controls over the calculation of non-GAAP measures?”

As always, your comments and thoughts are welcome!

Carol and George


Some XBRL News and A Few Tidbits

XBRL has not really been in the news much lately, but on March 29, 2016 the SEC released a second DERA study about tagging processes. The study, titled “Staff Observations of Custom Axis Tags” is at:


Here is an excerpt from the introduction of the report:

As part of our ongoing process to monitor registrant compliance with the requirements to report their financial information in their eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) exhibits, staff in the SEC Division of Economic and Risk Analysis recently assessed certain aspects of the XBRL exhibits that affect the data quality of the disclosures provided. Specifically, the staff examined the use of custom axis tags in XBRL exhibits that reporting companies submitted with their annual reports on Form 10-K. An axis tag in XBRL allows a filer to divide reported elements into different dimensions (e.g., revenue by geographical area, fair value measurement levels, components of total equity (e.g., common, preferred)) while also showing the relationships between separately reported elements.


The staff’s analysis resulted in a few key observations. First, unlike our previous staff observations that revealed a lower average rate of custom line item tags among large filers, staff observed a higher average use of custom axis tags as filer size increased, with the rate of custom axis tags highest for large accelerated filers. Second, for a random sample of filings that staff reviewed, staff observed instances of filers creating custom axis tags unnecessarily when an appropriate standard axis tag existed in the U.S. GAAP taxonomy.


This is an interesting development, and clearly demonstrates the SEC’s work to help make XBRL information more reliable and useful.

The earlier information the SEC has issued about XBRL include:

A “Dear CFO” letter about calculation structures that is at:


This earlier DERA study of extension use at:



Getting XBRL Right

Next, here is a good reminder to make sure that your XBRL submissions are prepared properly and tagging is done appropriately. While XBRL is not subject to ICFR and there is no requirement for any sort of auditor review, XBRL submissions are subject to your disclosure controls and procedures. As a result you should have appropriate controls to assure that your XBRL submission:

“is recorded, processed, summarized and reported, within the time periods specified in the Commission’s rules and forms.”

The above quote is from the definition of Disclosure Controls and Procedures in Exchange Act Rule 13a-15 which is at:


This requirement is highlighted in a recent Form 10-K/A filed by Goldman Sachs to make some corrections in their XBRL submission. Goldman filed their original 10-K on February 19, 2016 and on March 1, 2016 filed a Form 10-K/A. As is required by the Exchange Act Rules for amendments, Goldman included this explanatory note:


Due to an error by our external financial printer, our Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2015 (Original Form 10-K) was filed with an incorrect version of Exhibit 101, which provides items from our Original Form 10-K formatted in eXtensible Business Reporting Language.

This Amendment No. 1 on Form 10-K/A (Amendment) to our Original Form 10-K, filed on February 19, 2016, is being filed in accordance with Rule 12b-15 under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for the sole purpose of including the correct version of Exhibit 101.

This Amendment does not amend or otherwise update any other information in the Original Form 10-K and does not reflect events occurring after the date of the Original Form 10-K.

Goldman was perhaps doing something that is appropriate, which we discuss in our workshops. After the filing someone likely double checked the XBRL submission and found the problem, and they fixed it as soon as possible. This is an example of disclosure controls in action on a detective basis, and again, while the SEC has not really indicated that they will do a lot of review of XBRL submissions, we need to make sure they are done appropriately. And, who knows, it is possible the SEC pointed this out to Goldman.


Taxonomy Update

On March 7, 2016 the SEC updated the EDGAR system to accept the 2016 XBRL taxonomies previously released by the FASB. The announcement is at:



Using XBRL Information

While we still don’t hear a lot about users taking advantage of all the information in the XBRL database, user tools are continuing to evolve. One tool that provides a nice way to access and use XBRL data comes from a company called Calcbench. If you do peer group analysis or are searching for comparable disclosures, this is a very useful tool. You can learn more at:



As usual your thoughts and comments, including any insights you have about people using XBRL or XBRL user tools, is welcome!

XBRL Taxonomy Developments – Usually two or perhaps three for a while?

The SEC has formally approved the use of the 2015 XBRL Taxonomy. While this has not yet been generally announced in a press release it is highlighted with a “New” label on the SEC’s XBRL page at:


Generally, when a new taxonomy is approved the SEC discontinues use of the oldest taxonomy. They usually allow the use of two taxonomies, the newest year and the next newest year. (The FASB publishes a new taxonomy every year and submits it to the SEC who after review approves it for use by companies).

Now that the 2015 Taxonomy is approved for use the next earliest year, 2014 is also allowed, and the year before that, 2013, will be discontinued soon. Currently, as we approach quarter end, the SEC is allowing the use of all three of these taxonomies, 2015, 2014 and 2013. Likely the 2013 taxonomy will be discontinued soon, so if you are still using the 2013 Taxonomy it will be time to update soon. You should monitor the approved taxonomies at:


As mentioned, the FASB is now responsible for maintaining the US GAAP Taxonomy. At the FASB’s webpage you can find out about their project to simplify the taxonomy. It would be hard to find anyone who would not support that project!


And, just in case you have not heard about them yet, you can also find several implementation guides for specific tagging issues at the FASB’s webpage also. Check out:


Hope all this helps, and as usual your thoughts and comments are welcome!



XBRL Next Steps

As we blogged about during the summer, the SEC has started to issue documents concerning XBRL issues. Two of our earlier posts dealt with the special study about the use of extensions and the “Dear CFO” letter about calculation relationships (links are below).

Another event that may elevate the visibility of XBRL issues in the reporting community is going to happen on September 9 at 1pm – the FASB is hosting a 90 minute XBRL webcast to discuss the 2015 Taxonomy, which was just released for public comment today, September 2.

The title of the webcast is:

IN FOCUS: Proposed 2015 GAAP Financial Reporting Taxonomy, ASU Taxonomy Changes, Taxonomy Implementation Guides, Taxonomy Simplification

Interestingly, SEC Staff from the Office of Interactive Date will be speaking.

How may of us are hoping the simplification topic is a major theme?

You can register for the webcast at:


And, just in case you want to find them again:

The special study by DERA, the Division of Economics and Risk Analysis about the use of custom tags, aka extensions, is at:


The Dear CFO letter about calculation relationships is at: