Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) is a comprehensive online database that contains the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in the United States. It was developed by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to provide a single authoritative source for all GAAP accounting standards. The ASC has simplified the accounting standards by organizing them into logical topics and subtopics. Each topic has a unique number, making it easier for companies, auditors, and regulators to reference a specific accounting standard. The ASC has had a significant impact on the accounting profession, as it has eliminated confusion and increased consistency in financial reporting. This article will provide an overview of the ASC and its importance in financial reporting.
The Financial Accounting Standards Board Accounting Standards Codification
The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) is a centralized database of all Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). The ASC provides a comprehensive reference for all accounting standards and guidance, including technical accounting guidance and implementation examples. It was created to simplify accounting research and provide a single source of authoritative accounting standards for all entities required to comply with GAAP. The ASC covers a wide range of topics, including revenue recognition, leases, financial instruments, and income taxes, among others. It also provides guidelines for financial reporting by various types of entities, including private and public companies, nonprofit organizations, and governmental entities. The ASC is regularly updated to reflect changes in accounting standards and guidance, making it a vital resource for accounting professionals and others who rely on financial information.
Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB)
Accounting Standards Codification
In US accounting practices, the Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) is the current single source of United States Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). It is maintained by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB).
FASB accounting standards codification
The codification is effective for interim and annual periods ending after September 15, 2009. All prior accounting standards documents were superseded as described in FASB Statement No. 168, The FASB Accounting Standards Codification and the Hierarchy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. Accounting literature not included in the Codification is non-authoritative.
The Codification reorganizes the thousands of U.S. GAAP pronouncements into roughly 90 accounting topics and displays all topics using a consistent structure. It also includes relevant U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) guidance that follows the same topical structure in separate sections in the Codification.
To prepare constituents for the change, the FASB provided a number of tools and training resources.
The Codification did not change GAAP, but it introduced a new structure, organized in an easily accessible, user-friendly online research system. The FASB expected the system to reduce the amount of time and effort required to research accounting issues, mitigate the risk of noncompliance with standards through improved usability of the literature, provide accurate information with real-time updates as new standards are released, and assist the FASB with the research efforts required during the standard-setting process.
The three primary goals of the codification are “simplify user access by codifying all authoritative U.S. GAAP in one spot, ensure that the codification content accurately represented authoritative U.S. GAAP as of July 1, 2009, and to create a codification research system that is up-to-date for the released results of standard-setting activity.” The codification was made to make accounting standards easier to find through a single database.
Leading up to the codification process
Before the Codification, accounting standards lacked a consistent and logical structure. For the last 50 years, U.S. GAAP consisted of thousands of standards with multiple standard setters. The old U.S. GAAP were difficult to interpret, and the complexity of the standards made it hard for users to stay up to date. Problems with the old standards increased financial reporting risk and led to inefficiencies that increased cost. The Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council then voiced its concerns due to the increase of financial reporting guidance from the old U.S. GAAP standards, and the FASB responded by launching a new project to codify the standards. The project was approved in September 2004 by the Trustees of the Financial Accounting Foundation.
Public access to codification
All users must register to view any codification information. The codification allows a free basic view or paid professional view to the public. The professional view requires an annual subscription up to $940 depending on concurrent users. Discounts may apply to multiple concurrent users. The codification is used by accounting and reporting professionals, analysts and investors.
Each ASC reference is structured as a series of four numbers separated by hyphens: a three-digit Topic (the first digit of which represents an Area), a two-digit Subtopic, a two-digit Section, and a two- or three-digit Paragraph.
Subtopic 10 is always “Overall.”
Section numbers are standardized across topics (not all subtopics have all sections):
|Section number||Section title|
|05||Overview and Background|
|15||Scope and Scope Exceptions|
|45||Other Presentation Matters|
|55||Implementation Guidance and Illustrations|
|65||Transition and Open Effective Date Information|
For instance, 210-10-20 is Balance Sheet, Overall, Glossary. 605-40-25-1 is Revenue Recognition, Gains and Losses, Recognition, first paragraph.
- List of FASB pronouncements