Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1907839
 
 

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Financial Statement Disaggregation Decisions and Auditors’ Tolerance for Misstatement


Robert Libby


Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Tim Brown


University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Accountancy

February 21, 2012

Accounting Review, Vol. 88, No. 2, 2013

Abstract:     
Current IFRS requires significant disaggregation of income statement numbers while such disaggregation is voluntary and much less common under U.S. GAAP. We examine whether voluntary disaggregation of income statement numbers increases the reliability of income statement subtotals because auditors permit less misstatement in the disaggregated numbers. In our experiment, experienced auditors require correction of smaller errors in disaggregated numbers. Auditors also believe that greater disaggregation will increase SEC scrutiny of uncorrected financial statement errors in the disaggregated numbers. However, the effects are substantially reduced if the disaggregated numbers are presented in the notes. Furthermore, there is significant disagreement among participants on whether disaggregated numbers are relevant materiality benchmarks, and on what current auditing guidance requires. These results suggest a potential deficiency in current audit guidance, which traditionally has been aimed at promoting consensus in practice among auditors. They also suggest an unintended positive consequence of voluntary disaggregation for the reliability of income statement subtotals. Possible effects of management behavior and required disaggregation resulting from U.S. adoption of IFRS or the recommendations of the joint FASB/IASB financial statement presentation project are also discussed.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 45

Keywords: disaggregation, materiality, IFRS vs. U.S. GAAP, disclosure location, audit guidance

JEL Classification: M41, K20

Accepted Paper Series


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Date posted: August 10, 2011 ; Last revised: March 4, 2014

Suggested Citation

Libby, Robert and Brown, Tim, Financial Statement Disaggregation Decisions and Auditors’ Tolerance for Misstatement (February 21, 2012). Accounting Review, Vol. 88, No. 2, 2013. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1907839 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1907839

Contact Information

Robert Libby (Contact Author)
Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management ( email )
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-3348 (Phone)
607-254-4590 (Fax)
Tim Brown
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Accountancy ( email )
1206 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
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