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Introducing Inline XBRL

  • 27 Apr 2015
  • Neal Hannon
  • XBRL

There has been talk over the last two years about the interest the Securities and Exchange Commission has shown in a relatively new XBRL specification called Inline XBRL.  Inline XBRL is a specification of XBRL International that allows individual data elements from an XBRL instance to be embedded within a customized presentation of the information, such as a Web Page.  According to XBRL.org, Inline XBRL 1.1 was released in November 2013.  Alternatively called iXBRL, the specification combines the computer friendliness of XBRL with the readability of a web page.  In other words, both people and computers can read the same document.For the software developer here is a short explanationof iXBRL from an integrator’s perspective.

From XBRL International: Inline XBRL

In a domain where preparers have historically had complete control over the presentation of their reports, any approach which attempts to construct a rendering based on taxonomy meta-data is unlikely to yield a completely satisfactory result.The Inline XBRL specification is an extension to XBRL which takes a different approach: Rather than attempting to reconstruct a rendering from XBRL data, Inline XBRL allows XBRL data to be embedded into an HTML presentation of a report in a manner that allows it to be linked to the presented figures, and readily extracted into a standard XBRL instance document.

This approach yields a single document which allows the preparer’s preferred presentation to be viewed directly by humans (in a normal web browser), or consumed by software for automated analysis of the XBRL data.

Tools that support the Inline XBRL specification can provide a more interactive experience, allowing users to navigate from figures in the presentation to alternative views and analysis of the XBRL data. Inline XBRL (often called iXBRL) will typically be used for the collection of financial statements and in situations where the author of a report has significant flexibility in the content and format of the report, including by securities regulators and exchanges, companies registrars and tax authorities. It can also be used to publish aggregate information in one place both as XBRL and in a chosen human readable format.

Source: XBRL International. Found at http://specifications.xbrl.org/presentation.html Last visited on 4/12/2015.

Advantages of the inline XBRL approach are many.  First, the preparer gets to consolidate XBRL reports and presentation formats within a single document.  This helps to eliminate obvious errors when comparing the rendering, a standard XBRL instance document with paper based reports.   Second, the preparer creates a single document that can be filed with a regulator and can be displayed directly on a web page.  Investor relations departments will love the dual publishing of human readable content and XBRL enabled data within the same document. Third, as seen by the example of the implementations around the world, regulators are getting comfortable with the format and are pressing ahead with further applications.

Who is using iXBRL?

The Information below was retrieved from XBRL.org, visited on 4/12/2015.

HMRC Corporate Tax Returns

Taxonomies UK

Data is Private

Where UK

Collection Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs

Used by UK Corporations

Volume ~2.2 million filers

Type iXBRL Open Filing

The UK’s tax authority, HM Revenue & Customs, requires all corporations tax filings to be provided in iXBRL format. The filings incorporate a financial statement, formatted in the preferred format of the preparer, with iXBRL tags embedded against each fact that aligns with one of the 1200 or so concepts contained in the “Minimum Filing Requirement” subset of the UK GAAP or IFRS (as appropriate) taxonomies. The iXBRL financial statements are accompanied by a Computations filing that shows how taxable profit is derived from accounting profit, also in iXBRL format. Extensions, including dimensional extensions are permitted, but filers don’t have particular incentives to provide them.

Companies House Financial Statement Filing

Taxonomies UK

Data is Public

Where UK

Collection UK Companies House

Used by UK Corporations

Volume ~1.5 million filers

Type iXBRL Open Filing

The UK’s companies’ registry, Companies House, requires all UK companies to file financial statements annually. Since 2006, Companies House has had a voluntary XBRL filing mechanism in place and since 2011, companies have been able to file in iXBRL. Since 2013, Companies House has republished all of the filings it receives in iXBRL format. The filings incorporate a financial statement, formatted in the preferred format of the preparer, with iXBRL tags embedded against each fact that aligns with one of the 1200 or so concepts contained in the “Minimum Filing Requirement” subset of the UK GAAP or IFRS (as appropriate) taxonomies. Extensions, including dimensional extensions, are permitted.

Japan Financial Services Agency Next Generation EDINET

Taxonomies Japan.

Data is Public

Where Japan

Collection Japan Financial Services Agency (JFSA)

Used by Japanese Listed Companies and Investment Funds

Volume ~4.500 companies and 3.500 investment funds

Type iXBRL Filing

Since June of 2008, the Japan Financial Services Agency (JFSA) has mandated XBRL filing of Annual Securities Reports, Semiannual Securities Reports, Quarterly Securities Reports and Securities Registration Statements. The next generation EDINET has introduced Inline XBRL and the expansion of mandatory reporting to include material facts as well as financial information The expansion includes Financial Statement Footnotes, as well as reporting on Extraordinary Securities, Large Volume Holdings and Tender Offers. The tagging levels were also expanded to include sub-classifications and comments; segment information, summary of business results and disclosure of major shareholders.

One of the most recent examples of iXBRL is mandatory filing in Ireland. As explained here, all corporations subject to tax are filing financial statements in iXBRL as of October 2014.  Australia is also considering the use of iXBRL for all standard business reporting.

What about the SEC?

Presently, companies filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are required to file their information in two formats, XBRL and HTML.  While some concern has been expressed with the errors that two separate data formats inevitability create, the SEC has been actively seeking technical solutions to combine the two formats into one.  On August 5, 2013, the SEC published a request for quote specifying that “The Contractor shall provide the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) with technical services to create and support an Inline eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) software solution that enhances the ability of end users and application programmers to use SEC Interactive Data embedded into HTML documents using the Inline XBRL specification.”  On June 5, 2014 Fujitsu and Trintech announced that they are working to create an inline XBRL prototype for the SEC.

SEC commissioner Kara M. Stein onDecember 4, 2014 said the following about inline XBRL

“We also need to do a better job leveraging technology to empower investors, regardless of the content of the disclosures themselves.  For example, going forward, we should continue to require that information be provided to the SEC in a structured format, something I have been pushing for in every rule that requires the submission of data.  But more must be done here.  For example, we should move quickly to add what we call “in-line XBRL” to annual reports, which is essentially embedding the data tags within the filed document itself instead of having two separate filings.  This would reduce errors, and eliminate the burden on filers who must file in two formats.”

At a meeting of the SEC’s Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies, SEC staff member Mathew Slavin stated:

“Well, one of the things that we’re actively assessing is something called inline XBRL, and the idea is that this would be an option where your XBRL is essentially imbedded in your HTML, your Form 10-K or Q so that when you’re creating one, you’re creating the other so that the data in one is the data in the other.  And we see this as simplifying the creation process, and what we’ve seen is that companies that are starting to use disclosure management solutions, more and more of them are becoming available in the market, are finding that they’re actually having efficiencies in some cases with their process, and we think that this inline is going to potentially have an impact on that and also on the reliability of the data in terms of there would be potentially less errors as a result of having to support two different documents that say the same thing.  Here you’ve got one with the information imbedded in it.”

Mark J. Flannery, Chief Economist and Director, in a speechto the Data Transparency Coalition’s Fall Policy Conference, Washington, DC on Sept. 30, 2014, stated:

“Finally, we continue to seek new ways to facilitate the submission and use of structured financial data.  For example, DERA staff is working with outside contractors on “Inline-XBRL.” Consistent with its name, this new technology would allow companies to integrate (or embed) the XBRL tagging of the financial statements directly into their standard HTML formatted 10-K and 10Q filings.  This effectively eliminates the need to reconcile separate HTML and XBRL versions of the financial statement content, thus reducing the possibility of rekeying or similar errors. “

SEC Chair Mary Jo White, in an opening speech to the SEC’s Investor Advisory committee on October 9, 2014 indicated a deep commitment to XBRL.  Here is an excerpt from her speech:

“Relevant to your recommendations with respect to data tagging, I understand that the Investor as Owner Subcommittee will receive later this afternoon a briefing from the staff on the use of structured data, which remains an important, ongoing priority. With the Commission briefings on the Committee’s data tagging recommendation completed, the staff is continuing to work on ways to improve the quality and usefulness of structured data while reducing the burdens on companies as much as possible.”

In each of these notes, the SEC is actively sending signals that they are internally working on an inline XBRL solution.  They have technical vendors lined up, commissioners and directors giving advance notice and have had over nine months to work internally on their solution.  Additionally the SEC has the benefit of consulting with active iXBRL programs world-wide.

Conclusion

The inline XBRL option for filing with the SEC is coming.  This author expects an announcement from the SEC by the fall of this year about an experimental or voluntary program accepting inline XBRL sometime in 2016.  Stay tuned for further developments.

DataTracks US is part of DataTracks Services Limited, leaders worldwide in preparation of financial statements in EDGAR HTML, XBRL and iXBRL formats for filing with regulators. With a track record of over 10 years, DataTracks prepares more than 12,000 XBRL statements annually for filing with regulators such as SEC in the United States, HMRC in the United Kingdom, Revenue in Ireland, ACRA in Singapore and MCA in India.

To find out more about DataTracks, visit www.datatracks.com or send an email to inquiry@datatracks.com The views expressed are that of the author’s and DataTracks is not responsible for the contents or views expressed therein. If any part of this blog is incorrect, inappropriate or violates the IP rights of any person or organization, please alert us at ceo@datatracks.com.We will take immediate action to correct any violation.

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