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Fundamentals of XBRL

  • XBRL (extensible Business Reporting Language) is a freely available and global standard for exchanging business information. One use of XBRL is to define and exchange financial information, such as a financial statement. The XBRL Specification is developed and published by XBRL International, Inc. (XII).


What is XBRL?

  • XBRL is the open international standard for digital business reporting, managed by a global not for profit consortium, XBRL International. XBRL is used around the world, in more than 50 countries. Millions of XBRL documents are created every year, replacing older, paper- based reports with more useful, more effective and more accurate digital versions.
  • XBRL is a standards-based way to communicate and exchange business information between business systems.
  • The change from paper, PDF and HTML based reports to XBRLones is a little bit like the change from film photography to digital photography, or from paper maps to digital maps.


What does XBRL do?

Often termed “bar codes for reporting”, XBRL makes reporting more accurate and more efficient. It allows unique tagsto be associated with reported facts, allowing:

  • People publishing reports to do so with confidence that the information contained in them can be consumed and analyzed accurately.
  • People consuming reports to test them against a set of business and logical rules, to capture and avoid mistakes at their source.
  • People consuming the information to do so confident that the data provided to them conforms to a set of sophisticated pre-defined definitions.



What is XBRL tagging?

  • XBRL Tagging is the process by which any financial data is tagged with the most appropriate element in an accounting taxonomy (a dictionary of accounting terms) that best represents the data &facilitate identification/classification (such as enterprise, reporting period, reporting currency, unit of measurement etc.).
  • Since all XBRL reports use the same taxonomy, numbers associated with the same element are comparable irrespective of how they are described by those preparing the financial statements.


Who uses it?

XBRL is used in many ways, for many different purposes, including by:



•Data Providers

–  Specialist data providers that use performance and risk information published into  the market place

•Analysts and Investors

  • Analysts that need to understand relative risk and performance.

– Investors that need to compare potential investments and  understand  the  underlying performance of existing investments.


– Accountants use XBRL in support of clients reporting requirements and are often involved in the preparation of XBRL reports.


  • Companies that need to provide information to one or more of the regulators mentioned above.
  • Enterprises that need to accurately move information around within a complex group.


  • Securities regulators and stock exchanges
  • Business registrars that need to receive and make publicly available a range of corporate data about private and public companies, including annual financial statements.
  • Tax authorities
  • Statistical and monetary policy authorities


  • Government agencies that are improving government reporting by standardizing the way that consolidated or transactional reports are prepared and used within government agencies and/or published into the public domain.


Important features of XBRL

  • Clear Definitions: XBRL allows the creation of reusable, definitions, called taxonomies, that capture the meaning contained in all the reporting terms used in a business report,  as well as the relationships between all of the terms
  • Testable Business Rules: XBRL allows the creation of business rules that constrain what can be reported. Business rules can be logical or mathematical, or both and can be used, for example create ratios, consolidations and other kinds of value-added information, based on the fundamental data provided.
  • Multi-lingual Support: XBRL allows concept definitions to be prepared in as many languages as necessary. Translations of definitions can also be added by third parties.
  • Strong Software Support: XBRL is supported by a very wide range of software from vendors large and small, allowing a very wide range of stakeholders to work with the standard.




Accounting Software


Tax       Compliance

Only       Tax Software


Ease           of software operation

Less – as this is integrated system of accounting and tax compliance, everything connected with other and making changes at one place

may affect other aspects also.

More – as this is used only for one single purpose, i.e. tax compliance, it is less

complicated and bound to be easy.

Features and facilities

Less – as this system is not an exclusive system for tax compliance, it may have limited features for tax compliance.

More – as this is an exclusive and specifically designed system for tax compliance, naturally more features and facilities shall exist in this system.

Time       and efforts required

Less – as this is an integrated system, time required to transfer data to compliance software is zero.

More – as this is a separate software, data from accounting software need to put in this for preparation of returns. This may

take extra time and efforts.


More–As this is an integrated system and hence accounting data and tax compliance data shall always be same. No need to transfer data to compliance software and reconcile the data.

Less – as there are two separate                                             systems, reconciliation with accounting data is needed, and possibility

of mismatch of data is always there.


More – if tax compliance feature is not available in accounting system, getting it customized may require some amount of cost which may be

higher than buying separate software.

Less – as this is specific purpose software, there shall be less complications and the cost also shall be less.


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