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Inline XBRL Runs into Opposition

By Stephen Barlas
August 1, 2017

Numerous companies and trade associations are pushing back against the proposed requirement from the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) forcing companies to use Inline XBRL. Under the proposal, requirements for operating company financial statements would be phased in over a three-year period.


But opposition to the requirement hinges heavily on the apparent lack of readiness of software vendors to support Inline XBRL. Mary T. Hoeltzel, vice president and chief accounting ­officer at Cigna, says the company’s software partner doesn’t currently have the capability to generate Inline XBRL filings. Switching to another software vendor would be costly in a number of ways, including jeopardizing current accounting solutions that have been recently developed and implemented.


Richard Levy, chairman of the Committee on Corporate Reporting at Financial Executives International (FEI), acknowledges that Inline XBRL could improve the efficiency of the filing. But he notes that unprecedented accounting changes are in the works over the next three years, with major new standards due to be implemented for revenue recognition, leasing, and financial instruments. “As our member companies are significantly affected by the implementation of new accounting standards, the current time frame is not conducive to making a change of this nature,” Levy states, referring to requiring use of Inline XBRL.


Stephen Barlas has covered Washington, D.C., for trade and professional magazines since 1981 and since 1984 for Strategic Finance and its predecessor Management Accounting. You can reach him at sbarlas@verizon.net.
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