Now that large accelerated filers have adopted iXBRL, it’s critical that those next in line, accelerated filers and other filers, fully understand the change. To start, mandating the use of iXBRL is intended to improve the quality and accessibility of data submitted by public companies and mutual funds. In addition to requiring information to be submitted in iXBRL, the new rule will eliminate the requirement that filers post XBRL data to their websites. The SEC has listed several potential benefits from this change, including:
- iXBRL allows filers to embed XBRL data directly into their filings instead of including them as attachments, reducing the likelihood of inconsistencies.
- iXBRL gives the preparer full control over the presentation of XBRL disclosures within the HTML filing.
- Tools such as the open-source Inline XBRL Viewer on SEC.gov can be used to review the XBRL data more efficiently.
Although the SEC has been collecting XBRL data since 2009, the SEC has not used that data as often as it might, in part because of known quality issues with XBRL corporate filings. The perceived lack of use has frustrated issuers, regulators and some members of U.S. Congress alike. The goal of mandating financial statement submissions in iXBRL is that data provided by public companies will be of a higher quality and therefore much more widely used by regulators, investors and analysts.
So, what is iXBRL?
Inline XBRL — or iXBRL — is an international standard that merges machine-readable business reporting data into a human-readable HTML page.
Benefits of IXBRL: Solving the HTML/XBRL dilemma
HTML and XBRL are both offshoots of XML-based standards, but each has limitations that iXBRL aims to address.
- HTML allows users to render data into any internet browser, but it’s not readily machine-readable without human intervention to read, copy and paste or retype the information into any system.
- XBRL, which is machine-readable, allows automatic data exchange, validation and analysis, but is not human-readable.
- Inline XBRL is yet another offshoot of XML but is capable of reconciling HTML and XBRL data standards. Therefore, iXBRL makes traditional XBRL information readable from any web browser, just like an HTML document. Inline XBRL is managed by XBRL International, which is following the global Inline XBRL technical standards and specifications.