International Financial Reporting Standards

International Financial Reporting Standards

International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) are standards and interpretations adopted by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).

Many of the standards forming part of IFRS are known by the older name of International Accounting Standards (IAS). IAS were issued between 1973 and 2001 by the board of the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC). In April 2001 the IASB adopted all IAS and continued their development, calling the new standards IFRS.

tructure of IFRS

IFRSs are considered a "principles based" set of standards in that they establish broad rules as well as dictating specific treatments.

International Financial Reporting Standards comprise:

* "International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS)" - standards issued after 2001
* "International Accounting Standards (IAS)" - standards issued before 2001
* "Interpretations originated from the International Financial Reporting Interpretations Committee (IFRIC)" - issued after 2001
* "Standing Interpretations Committee (SIC)" - issued before 2001There is also a "Framework for the Preparation and Presentation of Financial Statements" which describes some of the principles underlying IFRS.


The [ Framework for the Preparation and Presentation of Financial Statements] states basic principles for IFRS.

Objective of financial statements

The framework states that the objective of financial statements is to provide information about the financial position, performance and changes in the financial position of an entity that is useful to a wide range of users in making economic decisions.

Underlying assumptions

The underlying assumptions used in IFRS are:
* "Accrual basis" - the effect of transactions and other events are recognised when they occur, not as cash is received or paid
* "Going concern" - the financial statements are prepared on the basis that an entity will continue in operation for the foreseeable future

Qualitative characteristics of financial statements

The Framework describes the qualitative characteristics of financial statements as being
* Understandability
* Relevance
* Reliability "and"
* Comparability.

Elements of financial statements

The Framework sets out the statement of financial position (balance sheet) as comprising:-
* "Assets" - resources controlled by the entity as a result of past events and from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the entity
* "Liabilities" - a present obligation of the entity arising from past events, the settlement of which is expected to result in an outflow from the entity of resources embodying economic benefits
* "Equity" - the residual interest in the assets of the entity after deducting all its liabilities

and the statement of comprehensive income (income statement) as comprising:
* "Income" is increases in economic benefits during the accounting period in the form of inflows or enhancements of assets or reductions in liabilities.
* "Expenses" are decreases in such economic benefits.

Recognition of elements of financial statements

An item is recognised in the financial statements when:-
* it is probable that a future economic benefit will flow to or from an entity and
* when the item has a cost or value that can be measured with reliability.

Measurement of the Elements of Financial Statements

Measurement is how the responsible accountant determine the monetary values at which items are to be valued in the income statement and balance sheet. The basis of measurement has to be selected by the responsible accountant.

Accountants employ different measurement bases to different degrees and in varying combinations. They include, but are not limited to:

*Historical cost

*Current cost

*Realisable (settlement) value

*Present value

Historical cost is the measurement basis chosen by most accountants. [IASB Framework for the Preparation and Presentation of Financial Statements. Par. 99 to 101.]

Concepts of Capital and Capital Maintenance

Concepts of Capital

A financial concept of capital, e.g. invested money or invested purchasing power means capital is the net assets or equity of the entity.

A physical concept of capital means capital is the productive capacity of the entity.

Concepts of Capital Maintenance and the Determination of Profit

Accountants can choose to maintain financial capital in either nominal monetary units or constant purchasing power units.

Physical capital is maintained when productive capacity at the end is greater than at the start of the period.

The main difference between the two concepts is the way asset and liability price change effects are treated.

Profit is the excess after the capital at the start of the period has been maintained.

When accountants choose nominal monetary units, the profit is the increase in nominal capital.

When accountants choose units of constant purchasing power, the profit for the period is the increase in invested purchasing power. Only increases greater than the inflation rate are taken as profit. Increases up to the level of inflation maintain capital and is taken to equity. [ IASB Framework for the Preparation and Presentation of Financial Statements Par. 102 to 110]

Features of IFRS


References to IFRS standards are given in the standard convention, for example (IAS1.14) refers to paragraph 14 of IAS1, Presentation of Financial Statements.

Content of financial statements

IFRS financial statements consist of (IAS1.8)
* a balance sheet
* income statement
* either a statement of changes in equity or a statement of recognised income or expense ("SORIE")
* a cash flow statement
* notes, including a summary of the significant accounting policies

Comparative information is provided for the previous reporting period (IAS 1.36). An entity preparing IFRS accounts for the first time must apply IFRS in full for the current and comparative period although there are transitional exemptions (IFRS1.7).

On 6 September 2007, the IASB issued a revised IAS 1 Presentation of Financial Statements. The main changes from the previous version are to require that an entity must:

* present all non-owner changes in equity (that is, 'comprehensive income' ) either in one statement of comprehensive income or in two statements (a separate income statement and a statement of comprehensive income). Components of comprehensive income may not be presented in the statement of changes in equity.
* present a statement of financial position (balance sheet) as at the beginning of the earliest comparative period in a complete set of financial statements when the entity applies an accounting policy retrospectively or makes a retrospective restatement.
* disclose income tax relating to each component of other comprehensive income.
* disclose reclassification adjustments relating to components of other comprehensive income. IAS 1 changes the titles of financial statements as they will be used in IFRSs:

* 'balance sheet' will become 'statement of financial position'
* 'income statement' will become 'statement of comprehensive income'
* 'cash flow statement' will become 'statement of cash flows'. The revised IAS 1 is effective for annual periods beginning on or after 1 January 2009. Early adoption is permitted.

Consolidated financial statements

The ultimate parent company of a group must produce consolidated financial statements including all of its subsidiaries (IAS27.9). A subsidiary is an entity which is controlled by another entity; control is the power to govern the financial and operating policies (IAS27.4). In preparing consolidated financial statements all balances, transactions, income and expenses with other group members are eliminated.

Acquisition accounting and goodwill

All business combinations are accounted for by applying the purchase method, requiring that one entity is identified as acquirer (IFRS3.17).

The acquiring entity assesses the fair value of the separate assets, liabilities and contingent liabilities in the business it has acquired. This can include identification of intangible assets, for example customer relationships, which are not commonly recognised except on acquisitions (IFRS3.36)

The difference between the cost of the business combination and the fair value of the assets and liabilities acquired represents goodwill (IFRS3.51). Goodwill is not subject to amortisation, but is assessed for impairment at least annually (IFRS3.54 and IAS36.10). Impairment is charged to the income statement(IAS36.60). Impairment provisions on goodwill are not subsequently reversed (IAS36.124).

Property, plant and equipment

Property, plant and equipment (PPE) is measured initially at cost (IAS16.15). Cost can include borrowing costs directly attributable to the acquisition, construction or production if the entity opts to adopt such a policy consistently (IAS23.11).

Property, plant and equipment may be revalued to fair value if the entire class of assets to which it belongs is so treated (for example, the revaluation of all freehold properties) (IAS16.31 and 36). Surpluses on revaluation are recognised directly to equity, not in the income statement; deficits on revaluation are recognised as expenses in the income statement (IAS16.39 and 40).

Depreciation is charged to write off the cost or valuation of the asset over its estimated useful life down to the recoverable amount (IAS16.50). The cost of depreciation is recognised as an expense in the income statement unless it is included in the carrying amount of another asset(IAS16.48). Depreciation of PPE used for development activities may be included in the cost of an intangible asset recognised in accordance with IAS38 Intangible Assets (IAS16.49). The depreciation method and recoverable amount is reviewed at least annually (IAS16.61). In most cases the method is "straight line", with the same depreciation charge from the date when an asset is brought into use until it is expected to be sold or no further economic benefits obtained from it, but other patterns of depreciation such as "reducing balance" are used if assets are used proportionately more in some periods than others (IAS16.56).

Joint ventures, associates and other investments

Joint ventures are investments other than subsidiaries where the investor has a contractual arrangement with one or more other parties to undertake an economic activity that is subject to joint control (IAS31.3).

Joint ventures may be accounted for using either:
*proportionate consolidation, accounting for the investor's share of the assets, liabilities, income and expenses of the joint venture (IAS31.30).
* equity method. The investment is stated initially at cost and adjusted thereafter for the investor's share of post-acquisition changes in net assets. The income statement includes the investor's share of profit or loss of the investment (IAS31.38).

Associates are investments, other than joint ventures and subsidiaries, in which the investor has a significant influence (the power to participate in financial and operating policy decisions) (IAS28.2). It is presumed that this will be the case if the investment is greater than 20% of the investee unless it can be clearly demonstrated not to be the case (IAS28. 6). Associates are accounted for using the equity method.

Investments other than subsidiaries, joint ventures and associates are accounted for at their fair values unless (IAS39.9 and 46):
* they have fixed or determinable maturity periods and are expected to be held to maturity, in which case they are stated at amortised cost (providing a constant rate of return until maturity;
* there is no reliable market value, in which case they are measured at cost.

Inventory (stock)

Inventory is stated at the lower of cost and net realisable value (IAS2.9), which is similar in principal to lower of cost or market (LOCOM) in US GAAP.

Cost comprises all costs of purchase, costs of conversion and other costs incurred in bringing items to their present location and condition (IAS2.10). Where individual items are not identifiable, the "first in first out" (FIFO) method is used, such that cost represents the most recent items acquired. "Last in first out" (LIFO) is not acceptable (IAS2.25).

Net realisable value is the estimated selling price less the costs to complete and costs to sell (IAS2.6).

Receivables (debtors) and payables (creditors)

Receivables and payables are recorded initially at fair value (IAS39.43). Subsequent measurement is stated at amortised cost (IAS39.46 and 47). In most cases, trade receivables and trade payables can be stated at the amount expected to be received or paid; however, it is necessary to discount a receivable or payable with a substantial credit period (see for example IAS18.11 for accounting for revenue).

If a receivable has been impaired its carrying amount is written down to its recoverable amount, being the higher of value in use and its fair value less costs to sell). Value in use is the present value of cash flows expected to be derived from the receivable (IAS36.9 and 59).


Borrowing is stated at amortised cost using the effective interest rate method. This requires that the costs of arranging the borrowing are deducted from the principal value of debt and are amortised over the period of the debt (IAS39.46).


Provisions are liabilities of uncertain timing or amount (IAS37.10). Provisions are recognised when an entity has, at the balance sheet date, a present obligation as a result of a past event, when it is probable that there will be an outflow of resources (for example a future cash payment) and when a reliable estimate can be made of the obligation (IAS37.14). Restructuring provisions are recognised when an entity has a detailed plan for the restructuring and has raised an expectation amongst those affected that it will carry out the restructuring (IAS37.72).


Revenue is measured at the fair value of consideration received or receivable (IAS18.9).

Revenue for the sale of goods cannot be recognised until the entity has transferred to the buyer the significant risks and rewards of ownership of the goods (IAS18.14).

Revenue for rendering of services is accounted for to the extent that the stage of completion of the transaction can be measured reliably (IAS18.20).

Employee costs

Employee costs are recognised when an employee has rendered service during an accounting period (IAS19.10). This requires accruals for short-term compensated absences such as vacation (holiday) pay (IAS19.11). Profit sharing and bonus plans require accrual when an entity has an obligation to make such payments at the reporting date (IAS19.17).

hare-based payment

Where an entity receives goods or services in return for the issue of its own shares or equity instruments it accounts for the fair value of those goods or services as an expense or as an asset (IFRS2.7). Where it offers options and other share based incentives to its employees it is required to assess the market value of the instruments when they are first granted and then to charge the cost over the period in which the benefit vests (IFRS2.10).

Income taxes

Taxes payable in respect of current and prior periods are recognised as a liability to the extent they are unpaid at the balance sheet date (IAS 12.12).

Deferred tax liabilities are recognised for taxable temporary differences at the balance sheet date which will result in tax payable in future periods (for example, where tax deductions 'capital allowances' have been claimed for capital items before the equivalent depreciation expense has been charged to the income statement) (IAS 12.15). Deferred tax assets are recognised for deductible temporary differences at the balance sheet date (for example, tax losses which can be used in future periods) if it is probable that there will be future taxable profits against which they can be offset (IAS 12.24, IAS 12.34).

There are exceptions to the recognition of deferred taxes in relation to goodwill (for deferred tax liabilities), the initial recognition of assets and liabilities in some cases and in relation to investments and interests in subsidiaries, branches, jointly controlled entities and associates providing certain criteria are met (IAS 12.15, IAS 12.24, IAS 12.39, IAS 12.44).

Cash flow statements

IFRS cash flow statements show movements in cash and cash equivalents. This includes cash on hand and demand deposits, short term liquid investments readily convertible to cash and overdrawn bank balances where these readily fluctuate from positive to negative (IAS7.6 to 9). IFRS cashflow statements do not need to show movements in borrowings or net debt.

Cash flow statements may be presented using either a direct method, in which major classes of cash receipts and cash payments are disclosed, or using the indirect method, whereby the profit or loss is adjusted for the effect of non-cash adjustments (IAS7.18).

Items on the cash flow statement are classified as operating activities, investing activities and financing (IAS7.10).

Leasing (accounting by lessees)

Leases are classified:-
* finance leases, being a lease which transfers substantially all the risks and rewards incidental to ownerships to the lessee. Finance leases are recognised on the balance sheet as an asset (the asset being leased) and as a liability (liability to the lessor) (IAS17.4, 20 and 25)
* operating leases, being a lease other than a finance lease. An expense is recognised in the income statement over the time period that the asset is used (IAS17.4 and 33).
* IASB is developing a discussion paper for November 2008 regarding convergence of the accounting standards for lessees. No longer would there be categories of 'finance' and 'operating' leases (IAS 17), instead the current finance lease model would be applied to all leases. The new accounting standard would be finalized in 2011.

Fair value

Fair value is the amount for which an asset could be exchanged, or a liability settled, between knowledgeable, willing parties in an arm's length transaction (IFRS1 App A).

Amortised cost

Amortised cost uses the effective interest method to provide a constant rate of return on an asset or liability until maturity (IAS39.9).

IASB current projects

The IASB publishes a work plan setting out projects in progress [IASB: "IASB Work Plan", " Retrieved on 2007-04-19 ] . Much of its work is directed at convergence with US GAAP.

Adoption of IFRS

IFRS are used in many parts of the world, including the European Union, Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia, Pakistan, India, GCC countries, Russia, South Africa, Singapore and Turkey. As of August 27, 2008, more than 100 countries around the world, including all of Europe, currently require or permit IFRS reporting. Approximately 85 of those countries require IFRS reporting for all domestic, listed companies. [cite web|url= | title = SEC Proposes Roadmap Toward Global Accounting Standards to Help Investors Compare Financial Information More Easily | date = 2008-08-28 |accessdate=2008-08-27 | publisher=U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission]

For a current overview see [ IAS PLUS's list of all countries that have adopted IFRS.]


The Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) has issued the Australian equivalent of IFRS as AASB 101 - 141, replacing the previous Australian generally accepted accounting principles since June 2006.


The use of IFRS will be required in 2011 for Canadian publicly accountable profit-oriented enterprises. This includes public companies and other “profit-orientated enterprises that are responsible to large or diverse groups of shareholders.”

European Union

All listed EU companies have been required to use IFRS since 2005.

In order to be approved for use in the EU, standards must be endorsed by the Accounting Regulatory Committee (ARC), which includes representatives of member state governments and is advised by a group of accounting experts known as the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group. As a result IFRS as applied in the EU may differ from that used elsewhere.

Parts of the standard IAS 39: Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement were not originally approved by the ARC. IAS 39 was subsequently amended, removing the option to record financial liabilities at fair value, and the ARC approved the amended version. The IASB is working with the EU to find an acceptable way to remove a remaining anomaly in respect of hedge accounting.


The government of Russia has been implementing a program to harmonize its national accounting standards with IFRS since 1998.Since then twenty new accounting standards were issued by the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation aiming to align accounting practices with IFRS. Despite these efforts essential differences between national accounting standards and IFRS remain.Since 2004 all commercial banks have been obliged to prepare financial statements in accordance with both national accounting standards and IFRS.Full transition to IFRS is delayed and is expected to take place from 2011.


Turkish Accounting Standards Board translated IFRS into Turkish in 2006. Since 2006 Turkish companies listed in Istanbul Stock Exchange are required to prepare IFRS reports.


In Singapore the Accounting Standards Committee (ASC) is in charge of standard setting. Singapore closely models its Financial Reporting Standards (FRS) according to the IFRS, with appropriate changes made to suit the Singapore context. Before a standard is enacted, consultations with the IASB are made to ensure consistency of core principles [Process of Prescribing Accounting Standards,, ‘’ Retrieved on 2008-02-29] .

United States and convergence with US GAAP

In 2002 at a meeting at Norwalk, Connecticut, the IASB and the US Financial Accounting Standards Board agreed to harmonize their agenda and work towards reducing differences between IFRS and US GAAP (the Norwalk Agreement). In February 2006 FASB and IASB issued a Memorandum of Understanding including a program of topics on which the two bodies will seek to achieve convergence by 2008.

US companies registered with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission must file financial statements prepared in accordance with US GAAP. Until 2007, foreign private issuers were required to file financial statements prepared either (a) under US GAAP or (b) in accordance with local accounting principles or IFRS with a footnote reconciling from local principles or IFRS to US GAAP. This reconciliation imposed extra expense on companies which are listed on exchanges both in the US and another country. From 2008, foreign private issuers are additionally permitted to file financial statements in accordance with IFRS as issued by the IASB without reconciliation to US GAAP. [] There is broad expectation among U.S. companies that the SEC will move to allow or require them to use IFRS in the near future and a growing acceptance of that scenario, according to Controllers' Leadership Roundtable survey data. []

In August 2008, the SEC announced a timetable that would allow some companies to report under IFRS as soon as 2010 and require it of all companies by 2014. [cite web|url= | title = An SEC Timetable for Global Accounting Rules | date = 2008-08-28 |accessdate=2008-08-28 |last=Epstein |first=Keith | publisher=BusinessWeek]

List of IFRS statements

The following IFRS statements are currently issued:
*IFRS 1 First time Adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards
*IFRS 2 Share-based Payment
*IFRS 3 Business Combinations
*IFRS 4 Insurance Contracts
*IFRS 5 Non-current Assets Held for Sale and Discontinued Operations
*IFRS 6 Exploration for and Evaluation of Mineral Resources
*IFRS 7 [ Financial Instruments: Disclosures]
*IFRS 8 Operating Segments []

*IAS 1: Presentation of Financial Statements
*IAS 2: Inventories
*IAS 7: Cash Flow Statements
*IAS 8: Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors
*IAS 10: Events After the Balance Sheet Date.
*IAS 11: Construction Contracts
*IAS 12: Income Taxes
*IAS 14: Segment Reporting (superseded by IFRS 8 on January 1, 2008)
*IAS 16: Property, Plant and Equipment
*IAS 17: Leases
*IAS 18: Revenue
*IAS 19: Employee Benefits
*IAS 20: Accounting for Government Grants and Disclosure of Government Assistance
*IAS 21: The Effects of Changes in Foreign Exchange Rates
*IAS 23: Borrowing Costs
*IAS 24: Related Party Disclosures
*IAS 26: Accounting and Reporting by Retirement Benefit Plans
*IAS 27: Consolidated Financial Statements
*IAS 28: Investments in Associates
*IAS 29: Financial Reporting in Hyperinflationary Economies
*IAS 31: Interests in Joint Ventures
*IAS 32: [ Financial Instruments: Presentation] (Financial instruments disclosures are in IFRS 7 Financial Instruments: Disclosures, and no longer in IAS 32)
*IAS 33: Earnings Per Share
*IAS 34: Interim Financial Reporting
*IAS 36: Impairment of Assets
*IAS 37: Provisions, Contingent Liabilities and Contingent Assets
*IAS 38: Intangible Assets
*IAS 39: [ Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement]
*IAS 40: Investment Property
*IAS 41: Agriculture

List of Interpretations

*Preface to International Financial Reporting Interpretations (Updated to January 2006)
*IFRIC 1 Changes in Existing Decommissioning, Restoration and Similar Liabilities (Updated to January 2006)
*IFRIC 7 Approach under IAS 29 Financial Reporting in Hyperinflationary Economies (Issued February 2006)
*IFRIC 8 Scope of IFRS 2 (Issued February 2006)
*IFRIC 9 Reassessment of Embedded Derivatives (Issued April 2006)
*IFRIC 10 Interim Financial Reporting and Impairment (Issued November 2006)
*IFRIC 11 IFRS 2-Group and Treasury Share Transactions (Issued November 2006)
*IFRIC 12 Service Concession Arrangements (Issued November 2006)

*SIC 7 Introduction of the Euro (Updated to January 2006)
*SIC 10 Government Assistance-No Specific Relation to Operating Activities (Updated to January 2006)
*SIC 12 Consolidation-Special Purpose Entities (Updated to January 2006)
*SIC 13 Jointly Controlled Entities-Non-Monetary Contributions by Venturers (Updated to January 2006)
*SIC 15 Operating Leases-Incentives (Updated to January 2006)
*SIC 21 Income Taxes-Recovery of Revalued Non-Depreciable Assets (Updated to January 2006)
*SIC 25 Income Taxes-Changes in the Tax Status of an Entity or its Shareholders (Updated to January 2006)
*SIC 27 Evaluating the Substance of Transactions Involving the Legal Form of a Lease (Updated to January 2006)
*SIC 29 Disclosure-Service Concession Arrangements (Updated to January 2006)
*SIC 31 Revenue-Barter Transactions Involving Advertising Services (Updated to January 2006)
*SIC 32 Intangible Assets-Web Site Costs (Updated to January 2006)

Further reading

* International Accounting Standards Board (2007): "International Financial Reporting Standards 2007 (including International Accounting Standards (IASs(tm)) and Interpretations as at 1 January 2007)", LexisNexis, ISBN 1422418138

* Original texts of IASs/IFRSs, SICs and IFRICs adopted by the Commission of the European Communities and published in Official Journal of the European Union

* Case studies of [ IFRS implementation] in [ Brazil] , [ Germany] , [ India] , [ Jamaica] , [ Kenya] , [ Pakistan] , [ South Africa] and [ Turkey] . Prepared by the United Nations Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting (ISAR).


External links

* [ The International Accounting Standards Board] - Has short summaries of all IFRS standards, news and status of projects in progress

* [ The latest IFRS news and resources from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW)]

* [ The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) IFRS learning and assessment programme]

* [ The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) Knowledge Guide to IFRS with links to external sources]

* [ Initial publication of the International Accounting Standards in the Official Journal of the European Union PB L 261 13-10-2003]

* [ Directorate Internal Market of the European Union on the implementation of the IAS in the European Union]

* [ Ernst & Young IFRS page] with news and downloadable documents

* [ PwC IFRS page] with news and downloadable documents

* [ Free 2008 IFRS Pocket Guide from IASPlus - Deloitte]
* [ Deloitte: An Overview of International Financial Reporting Standards]
* [ KPMG IFRS group] with news and downloadable documents

* [ The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) in partnership with its marketing and technology subsidiary, CPA2Biz, has developed the web site.]
* [ RSM Richter IFRS page] with news and downloadable documents related to IFRS Conversions in Canada

* [ U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission] Proposal for First-Time Application of International Financial Reporting Standards by Foreign private issuers registered with the SEC

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