Will SEC Move to Inline XBRL?

By Stephen Barlas
February 1, 2016

Commissioner Michael Piwowar of the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) told a financial reporting conference in November that he shares concerns that potentially materially inaccurate information is possibly being conveyed to the markets and could be affecting the prices of securities. That concern also has been raised by the chairman and ranking member of the Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs: Sens. Mike Crapo (R.-Idaho) and Mark Warner (D.-Va.).


The SEC requires financial information to be submitted two ways: as XBRL-formatted open data and as a nonsearchable text document. Crapo and Warner argue that the SEC has essentially ignored errors in XBRL submissions. The two are pushing the SEC to adopt inline XBRL, which would save preparers money because currently they must compare the separate financial statements against each other before filing, which increases compliance costs. Piwowar said, “The Commission should move promptly to modify EDGAR to permit inline XBRL and commence a voluntary pilot program to obtain more information about the costs and benefits of an inline XBRL system.”




Annual XBRL filing costs for 69% of small public companies using outsourced solutions:

$10K or less


Source: XBRL US and AICPA,



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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