Inline XBRL (iXBRL) what does it means and what benefits it provide?

The eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) is being leveraged world-over by regulators and filers for reporting business and financial information. XBRLization’ of financial data today is used by over 100 regulators in more than 60 countries.

However, XBRLcan is interpreted only by machines. An XBRL instance document is composed of XML files that require a rendering engine or an XBRL instance viewer to interpret and present the data in a human-readable format.

What is Inline XBRL (iXBRL)?

The Inline XBRL (iXBRL) specification on the other hand has been made readable for both humans and machines. iXBRL is an XHTML file that has XBRL data embedded in a well-formatted HTML document. The basic idea of developing iXBRL is to allow preparers to retain the original view or formatting of the source document while creating an XBRL document. The XHTML representation of the information is what aids the document to be human-readable.

With Inline XBRL, filers need no longer to work on two separate formats-XBRL and HTML for their ESMA filing. What’s more, because of inline XBRL’s inherent human-readability, users might take notice of and comprehend the data in their documents and actually use it for investor relations and analysis.

Global implementations of Inline XBRL (iXBRL)

Below are regulators around the world that have already implemented iXBRL:

  • In April 2011, companies in the UK started filing their annual accounts and corporation tax returns in inline XBRL to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
  • Japan’s Financial Services Agency (JFSA) mandated XBRL in 2008 and this was later replaced with the iXBRL format in 2013.
  • In 2012, the Revenue Commissioners of Ireland initiated a voluntary program for all taxpayers to file their financial statements in inline XBRL. The mandatory filing was introduced in phases till October 2014.
  • The Danish Business Authority, Denmark introduced iXBRL in a phase-wise manner in 2015.
  • In 2015, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) had begun the Inline XBRL filing program.
  • The CIPC in South Africa mandated Inline XBRL with effect from July 2018.

Apart from this, the SEC in the U.S. announced to make Inline XBRL (iXBRL) the de-facto reporting standard beginning in 2019 in a phase-wise manner, the S.S.M in Malaysia also has passed a peremptory decree for qualifying companies to file in iXBRL, ESMA in Europe has also mandated companies to file in the iXBRL format beginning 2020.

Advantages of Inline XBRL (iXBRL)

Whether you are an Enterprise, an Investor, or a Regulator; Inline XBRL (iXBRL) is beneficial to you.

  • Enterprise: Digital reporting in the format of iXBRL will assist companies in egress from a dual reporting format to a single structured format that enables human and machine readability. With iXBRL companies would need to review and approve only one document Inline XBRL (iXBRL) as opposed to two formats- XBRL and HTML. The benefits are seen in time and cost savings, the faster review process, more reliable and accurate handling of data, improved analysis, and better quality of information and decision-making.
  • Investors: An iXBRL submission portal enables transparency of business and financial information to investors. Structured and standardized data allows for easy comparison of business reporting and analysis.
  • Regulators: XBRL has its own limitations since it is not linked to the source document and there may be chances that the numbers in the source document and XBRL do not tick and tie. With Inline XBRL (iXBRL), instances of such errors are considerably reduced since the numbers are tagged on the document itself. Regulators can also detect any inconsistencies or early signs of malpractice or fraud.

One of the limitations of Inline XBRL (iXBRL) is that there may be some information that would need to be tagged but the tag is not available on the face of the document. Such information needs to be tagged off the document or in the Hidden Section.

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