The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) has today issued a revised version of IAS 1 Presentation of Financial Statements. The revision is aimed at improving users’ ability to analyse and compare the information given in financial statements.

The changes made are to require information in financial statements to be aggregated on the basis of shared characteristics and to introduce a statement of comprehensive income. This will enable readers to analyse changes in a company’s equity resulting from transactions with owners in their capacity as owners (such as dividends and share repurchases) separately from ‘non-owner’ changes (such as transactions with third parties). In response to comments received through the consultation process the revised standard gives preparers of financial statements the option of presenting items of income and expense and components of other comprehensive income either in a single statement of comprehensive income with subtotals, or in two separate statements (a separate income statement followed by a statement of comprehensive income).

The revisions include changes in the titles of some of the financial statements to reflect their function more clearly (for example, the balance sheet is renamed a statement of financial position). The new titles will be used in accounting standards, but are not mandatory for use in financial statements.

The revised standard will come into effect for the annual periods beginning on or after 1 January 2009, but early adoption is permitted.

The publication of IAS 1 marks the completion of the first phase of the IASB’s joint initiative with the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to review and harmonise the presentation of financial statements. The second phase, which has already begun, is examining more fundamental questions about the presentation of information in financial statements and the IASB expects to publish a discussion paper on the subject within the next six months.

Introducing the revised IAS 1, Sir David Tweedie, Chairman of the IASB, said

Any changes to the way financial information is presented will quite rightly attract much interest. With the first phase of this project now completed we look forward to addressing the more fundamental questions as part of a broad consultation that will start at the beginning of next year. I would strongly encourage all those who have an interest in financial reporting to participate in this consultation in order to ensure that the best ideas available are given due consideration by the Board.

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