IASB clarifies definition of ‘material’

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) has issued amendments to its definition of material to make it easier for companies to make materiality judgements, saying some companies experienced difficulties using the old definition

The updated definition amends IAS 1 Presentation of Financial Statements and IAS 8 Accounting Policies, Changes in Accounting Estimates and Errors.

The amendments clarify the definition of material and how it should be applied by including in the definition guidance that until now has featured elsewhere in IFRS standards.

The ‘old definition’ in IAS 1 read: ‘Omissions or misstatements of items are material if they could, individually or collectively, influence the economic decisions that users make on the basis of the financial statements.

The new definition is: ‘Information is material if omitting, misstating or obscuring it could reasonably be expected to influence the decisions that the primary users of general purpose financial statements make on the basis of those financial statements, which provide financial information about a specific reporting entity.’

In addition, the explanations accompanying the definition have been improved. Finally, the amendments ensure that the definition of material is consistent across all IFRS standards.

The changes are effective from 1 January 2020, but companies can decide to apply them earlier.

Definition of Material Amendments to IAS 1 and IAS 8 is here

Report by Pat Sweet

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