4 Most Common XBRL Errors: Part Four

By Jen Stretch. As an accountant preparing financial documents for the SEC, you know that making sure your data is accurate and properly tagged is crucial. In our XBRL errors blog series we provide a detailed analysis of the four most common XBRL errors to help you be more proactive in the preparation process and produce better quality XBRL financials. In the fourth and final part of this blog series we will focus on date error.

According to XBRL US, date error is the fourth most common XBRL error committed by filers and accounts for over 9% of all XBRL errors. This error occurs when concepts in an XBRL document are tagged with incorrect dates in relation to the end date of the reporting period. The date error can also pop up when a concept is tagged with the appropriate calendar, but has not been properly dimensionalized. With proper training and a thorough review processes, this error can be easily avoided.

Example 1: Future Amortization Expense

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Microsoft Corporation 2015 10-K

Above is an excerpt from Microsoft Corporation’s 2015 10-K “Goodwill and Other Intangible Assets” note. Since future dates are stated in this disclosure, one may be inclined to tag each line with the associated fiscal year calendar. That would be inappropriate, however, as this table consists of an estimate at reporting period end of future expenses, not an exact amount. The US GAAP taxonomy contains “future” elements that indicate the associated concept as an estimate of a future recognition. If this type of element exists in the taxonomy for a particular concept, the appropriate treatment is to use a date context of the end of the reporting period of the document.

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2015 US GAAP Taxonomy Future Elements

Example 2: Subsequent Events

Naturally, most concepts in a 10-Q or 10-K will be tagged with a calendar that is prior or equal to the documents period end date since that is the period being reported, but subsequent events, by definition, occur after the end date of the reporting period. Accordingly, they should be tagged with the date on which the subsequent event occurred. It is important, however, to make sure that the event is also specifically indicated as a subsequent event with SubsequentEventMember. Visit XBRL US for additional guidance on subsequent events.

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Starbucks Corporation 2014 10-K: Subsequent Events Note

Example 3: Forecasts

Not every forecast in a financial report will have an existing future element in the US GAAP taxonomy, so in some cases a different approach must be taken. In the example below, the two values in boxes represent the planned number of closures, and since no one can provide assurance of the future, they are forecast for the periods indicated. In this case it is appropriate to tag the values with the future date indicated in the document, but it is important to further identify them with ScenarioForecastMember since they are not actual facts that have occurred.

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Staples, Inc. 2014 10-Q for the period ended November 1, 2014

It is important to review your XBRL for proper use of future dates and take corrective actions. In Certent Disclosure Management this can be done by using a date filter to sort and navigate to specific dates in your document. Since a document can change numerous times during the reporting period, this review, is best left for the week prior to filing (or when the tagging largely completed). For additional guidance on tagging forecasted information visit XBRL US.

Incorporating checks for the most common XBRL errors in your document review process will ensure accuracy of your data and enhance the quality of your filings. Be sure to read our entire XBRL errors blog series to learn more about invalid member axis combinations, negative value errors and required value not reported.

Jen Stretch