The CIPC in South Africa has recently announced that all companies must file their annual financial statements using inline XBRL. iXBRL is a form of XBRL that combines traditional XBRL tags with human readable HTML. It allows filers to insert financial XBRL data directly into a programmed document in HTML format. It is a method of changing merged balance sheets, income statements, and statements of cash flow into machine-readable data, while simultaneously not compromising on human readability.

The introduction of iXBRL in South Africa is an absolute necessity in enhancing the exchange of financial information between business and regulatory bodies, while also accommodating small filers. It helps the regulators to maintain transparency in the way businesses are conducted in South Africa. It will allow companies to file their AFS digitally, in a more structured format. iXBRL will allow for business information to be posted safely online, enabling scrutiny, and affording accountability and openness of important information. It eliminates the need to file an instance document separately from a human readable document such as HTML or PDF.

The requirement will become effective on July 1, 2018 and filers will use a customized version of the IFRS Taxonomy. With this announcement, South Africa joins several other regulators in the world who have gone to iXBRL or who (like the SEC) plan to do so.

According to IRIS, Core benefits CIPC has seen in iXBRL are:

  • Availability of easy access to data and comparability
  • Reduced costs and time
  • Improved Data Accuracy and reduction in workload
  • Ability to quickly and automatically identify problems with filings
  • Ability to monitor data, activities and arrive at conclusions with far greater speed and confidence

Some of these benefits are best realized by using an inline XBRL viewer, such as that available on the SEC site. Such a viewer enables instant checking of the XBRL tagging before it is actually filed.

Source: XBRL Canada

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