Did Codification Result in Improved Readability?

Doug Barney, Daniel Tschopp, Steve Wells

Abstract


Financial reporting complexity costs money. The process of developing and promulgating financial reporting standards is costly. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the International Accounting Standards staff spend time, expertise, and funds writing detailed financial reporting standards. Reporting companies spend money studying and applying these financial reporting standards. Investors, financial analysts, and creditors, while knowledgeable in financial accounting, spend time and resources interpreting and analyzing the resulting financial reports. While there are a number of factors that contribute to the complexity in financial reporting, the level of reading complexity, or readability, is an essential element of a clear, easy-to-understand accounting standard. Recently the FASB adopted a process to bring about a Codification for U.S. Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). What impact, if any, did the FASB’s Codification have on the level of reading complexity or readability in U.S. GAAP? The results of several readability tests reported in this article indicate the impact of Codification on the level of reading complexity or readability is not a positive one.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijafr.v7i1.11101

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