SEC proposes iXBRL for Form 11-K

Form 11-K is an annual report mandated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Form 11-K registers the records of all publicly listed companies like audited financial statements (includes audited financial statements of previous two years and audited statement of income), their business models, stock purchases by an employee, etc.

These filings are largely in the public interest to ensure that investments in companies are made with complete information of their financial standings at the investor’s disposal.

In an effort to streamline and standardize SEC filings, the SEC adopted the eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) format for filing structured financial statements. Initially, the use of XBRL improved the efficacy of the filing process and its consumption. However, with use, certain shortcomings loomed largely.


The most notable challenge of the current XBRL format was that in order to improve the quality of data, facts and figures in the report had to be matched manually, and most times, there was duplicate filing.


With ‘Inline XBRL’ (iXBRL), the process has evolved to be a structured, machine-readable financial data set and human-readable, interactive data set in a single document, thereby removing the need for a duplicate filing. With the iXBRL format, the company has a greater hold on presenting their financial statements as the iXBRL reports are, for all practical purposes, HTML documents. Challenges of matching facts and figures are overcome using iXBRL tagging features.

From the point of view of the SEC and consumers of the financial data such as investors and analysts, the financial reports presented in iXBRL format are highly interactive, human-readable, and automated.

Filing Form 11-K in iXBRL format

Unlike Forms 10-K, 20-F, and 40-F, Form 11-K was not mandated to be registered in a structured format when filed in compliance to the ‘Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 1974’. Therefore, the financial statements filed were not machine-readable. The SEC, in view of maintaining the set precedent of standardizations of filings to a structured format, has proposed the adoption of the iXBRL format for filing Form 11-K.

With over 60% of financial statement data processed digitally, the expectation is to remove hurdles for filers and improve the financial statement data quality of Form 11-K filings. To meet this expectation, the SEC proposes to amend the Securities Exchange Act to allow data-tagging of Form 11-K in the Inline XBRL format. The iXBRL format, owing to the advantages mentioned earlier, would help both filers and consumers of the financial statement data take one more step towards filing modernization.

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