The Importance of Reviewing XBRL

XBRL documents are notorious for being error-prone. After all, financial statements are complex and unique to each organization. Standardizing this cannot be “ and is not “ an easy task.

As such, the correctness of XBRL filings has assumed new importance. In such an environment, every company must institute a layer of review between XBRL preparation and XBRL filing.

The PDF and XBRL formats must be completely consistent with each other. It is essential for the XBRL filing to have absolutely no material errors. XBRL, after all, is a data format. It does not impact the data that it reports.

For companies that are already using a 3rd party service/SaaS, it is still necessary to review XBRL documents because it is the company that knows its financials the best. A third-party service provider will almost always have doubts over certain tags, which can only be resolved by the companys officials during a review. Of course, a majority of XBRL tags are retained from previous quarters and years. So, after a first detailed review, subsequent reviews for subsequent filings will only need rigorous review for the small number of new tags present.

Validation software (like the MCA21) help companies ensure that their XBRL filings are correct and fit for submission. However, there are limits. For example, a piece of validation software will tell you that there is a calculation error or that your net profit exceeds your revenue. But it will not tell you that you have tagged something with a wrong item. So, you absolutely do need a combination of validation software and manual review to achieve near 100% accuracy.

The following things need to be kept in mind when reviewing XBRL documents:

  • Calculation Inconsistencies “ barring few unavoidable scenarios, these should be cleared
  • Peer Practices “ the kind of advice that a service provider or a consultant helping you with review can provide due to their exposure to similar situations in the same industry
  • Extension Rates “ this, of course, is a non-issue currently in India. But should extensions be become permissible in India, the lower their percentage in a filing, the better, all the while prioritizing accurate and fair representation of the accounting situation

Review of XBRL documents is a good practice in the same way that re-reading your answer sheet before submitting it in an examination is. Make sure that you do it, because there are bound to be mistakes. A service provider with experience is, of course, of great assistance, but whether you engage such a provider or not, the practice of reviewing should get incorporated into your processes right now.


DataTracks is a global leader in preparation of financial statements in XBRL and iXBRL formats for filing with regulators. 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 and MCA in India. DataTracks provides world-class services with its team of certified accountants experienced in US GAAP, UK GAAP, India GAAP and IFRS.

To find out more about DataTracks, visit or send an email to

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