Definition of Material
The Definition of Material (with amendments to IAS 1 and IAS 8) puts the spotlight on:
Applying materiality when preparing financial statements, by:
- Encouriging IFRS reporting specialists to use materiality as a filter
- Redefining the definition and existing guidance aim to help preparers apply judgement
- Making amendments on account policy disclosures, and
- Providing further guidance on disclosures
Materiality as a filter
Making information in financial statements more relevant and less cluttered has been one of the key focus areas for the International Accounting Standards Board (the Board replace by IASB).
Companies make materiality judgements not only when making decisions about recognition and measurement, but also when deciding what information to disclose and how to present it. However, management are often uncertain about how to apply the concept of materiality to disclosure, and find it easier to defer to using the disclosure requirements within the International Financial Reporting Standards as a checklist.
Up to now, the wording of the definition of material in the Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting differed from the wording used in IAS 1 and IAS 8. The existence of more than one definition of material was potentially confusing, leading to questions over whether the definitions had different meanings or should be applied differently.
These amendments on accounting policy disclosures will enable IFRS reporting specialists documenting the decisions as to which accounting policies have been disclosed in the financial statements.
The focus on company-specific information
should further encourage tailored disclosure.
Definition of Material
To help IFRS reporting specialists preparing or reviewing financial statements, the Board had previously refined its definition of ‘material’ 1 and issued non-mandatory practical guidance on applying the concept of materiality2. As the final piece of the materiality improvements, the Board has now issued amendments on the application of materiality to disclosure of accounting policies.
|The old definition||
Omissions or misstatements of items are material if they could, individually or collectively, influence the economic decisions that users make on the basis of the financial statements
The new definition
Information is material if omitting, misstating or obscuring it could reasonably be expected to influence the decisions that the primary users of general purpose financial statements make on the basis of those financial statements, which provide financial information about a specific reporting entity.
The refined definition of material complements the non-mandatory IFRS Practice Statement 2 guidance the Board issued in 2017, which outlines a four-step process that preparers can use to help them make materiality judgements and provides guidance and examples on how to make materiality judgements in preparing their financial statements.
Amendments on accounting policy disclosures
The Board has recently issued amendments to IAS 1 Presentation of Financial Statements and an update to IFRS Practice Statement 2 Making Materiality Judgements to help companies provide useful accounting policy disclosures.
The key amendments to IAS 1 include:
- requiring companies to disclose their material accounting policies rather than their significant accounting policies;
- clarifying that accounting policies related to immaterial transactions, other events or conditions are themselves immaterial and as such need not be disclosed; and
- clarifying that not all accounting policies that relate to material transactions, other events or conditions are themselves material to a company’s (consolidated) financial statements.
The Board also amended IFRS Practice Statement 2 to include guidance and two additional examples on the application of materiality to accounting policy disclosures.
The amendments are consistent with the refined definition of material: ‘Accounting policy information is material if, when considered together with other information included in an entity’s financial statements, it can reasonably be expected to influence decisions that the primary users of general purpose financial statements make on the basis of those financial statements”.
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