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What You Need to Know About the SEC’s XBRL Tag Update

Monday, June 24, 2019 - 16:30
What You Need to Know About the SEC’s XBRL Tag Update

When it comes to your investor relations programs, your message is mission critical and your company depends on you to get it right, every time.

In this post, we’re going to dive into the details of an important update for reporting business and financial information.

The SEC’s Important Initiative

Just a few years ago, we were talking about supporting a new initiative from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). 

They called it “structured data”—but it became more widely known by its underlying technology: XBRL (eXtensible Business Reporting Language).

At the time XBRL was introduced by the SEC, its benefits were summarized as follows:

“Structured data offers numerous benefits. Widely available software can be used to easily analyze vast amounts of structured data without extensive and burdensome manual processing. This allows investors, analysts and regulators to access and manipulate data in one disclosure, to compare disclosures across registrants, and to make comparisons against previous disclosures from the same registrant.”

Now, large accelerated filers whose fiscal periods end on or after June 15th are the first wave of filers who will be required to use “Inline XBRL” in their annual and quarterly reports in 2019.

So, what is Inline XBRL anyway? And why should you know about it for your IR programs?

Introduction of Inline XBRL

Inline XBRL is a major format change on how XBRL is presented in a filing. XBRL tags are embedded in the HTML filing instead of being attached as individual exhibits.

The SEC has summarized it as follows:

"Inline XBRL is a format that allows filers to embed XBRL data directly into a HyperText Markup Language (HTML) document so that filers need only prepare one Inline XBRL document rather than generate an HTML document of their financial statement information or risk/return summary information and then tag a copy of the data to create a separate XBRL exhibit.”

The difference between Inline XBRL and the existing method of attaching XBRL files as exhibits is in the placement of the XBRL tags.

The XBRL standard, including all the defined tags (known as a taxonomy) remain unchanged. 

Phase-In Period

Companies that report using U.S. GAAP have three years to comply with the new Inline XBRL requirements, beginning with fiscal periods ending on or after:

  • June 15, 2019 for large accelerated filers
  • June 15, 2020 for accelerated filers
  • June 15, 2021 for all other filers

U.S. domestic filers will become subject to the requirement when filing their first Form 10-Q for the fiscal period ending on or after the applicable compliance date listed above.

IFRS filers will be required to comply beginning with fiscal periods ending on or after June 15, 2021.

Inline XBRL on Cover Pages

In additional to using XBRL tags on the primary financial statements, the SEC has also mandated the use of Inline XBRL tags for elements included on the cover pages of 10-Qs, 10-K, 8-Ks and other form types.

The elements to be tagged using XBRL include the form type, the issuer’s name, tax ID and other issuer metadata, such as the CIK. 

In addition to XBRL tagging of certain elements, Form 8-K filings must also include the title of each class of such securities, trading symbol(s) and name of each exchange on which registered. This information is required to be organized in a table—like how it’s included in 10-Q and 10-K filings:


Inline XBRL on Cover Pages


Viewing Inline XBRL

The SEC’s website now includes a tool to display Inline XBRL within the primary filing.

When viewing a filing on the SEC’s website, a green “iXBRL” icon indicate this filing included Inline XBRL. Click on the image to view the Inline XBRL tags.


Viewing Inline XBRL


For IR, whether you’re reporting quarterly earnings, hosting investor days or broadcasting annual meetings, West Digital Media supports your entire IR communications workflow—keeping investors, analysts and the media informed.

Talk to us about your investor relations website and how we can help.

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