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The Daily

FASB Has Materiality on its Mind

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Sep 25, 2015
ChangesAheadSquareThe Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has released two new proposals that aim to clarify, number one, what is and is not material and, number two, what it is they mean by "material" in the first place. 

“Stakeholders indicated that the current discussion of materiality in our Conceptual Framework is inconsistent with the legal concept of materiality as established by the U.S. Supreme Court,” said FASB Chairman Russell G. Golden. “This led to uncertainty about organizations’ abilities to interpret what disclosures are material; and the Board’s ability to identify and evaluate disclosure requirements in accounting standards.

Under the proposals, the definition of materiality would be updated to include a statement that materiality is a legal concept, with the amendment also including a brief summary of U.S. Supreme Court decisions on the definition of the term, as "that is the definition that is currently observed by the Board." Further, the update would clarify what counts as material in the disclosures. Also under the proposals, materiality would be applied to quantitative and qualitative disclosures individually and in the aggregate in the context of the financial statements as a whole, meaning that some, all or none of the requirements in a disclosure section may be material. Omitting a disclosure of immaterial information, therefore, would not count as an accounting error. 

The FASB said that the proposed updates does not change any specific disclosure requirements, and in fact "would improve the effectiveness of the notes to financial statements by helping reporting entities omit immaterial information." 

Comments on the exposure drafts are due December 8.