The Hierarchy of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
This Statement identifies the sources of accounting principles and the framework for selecting the principles to be used in the preparation of financial statements of nongovernmental entities that are presented in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) in the United States (the GAAP hierarchy).
Why Is the FASB Issuing This Statement and When Is It Effective?
The Board is responsible for identifying the sources of accounting principles and providing entities with a framework for selecting the principles used in the preparation of financial statements that are presented in conformity with GAAP. The current GAAP hierarchy, as set forth in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Statement on Auditing Standards No. 69, The Meaning of Present Fairly in Conformity With Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, has been criticized because (1) it is directed to the auditor rather than the entity, (2) it is complex, and (3) it ranks FASB Statements of Financial Accounting Concepts, which are subject to the same level of due process as FASB Statements of Financial Accounting Standards, below industry practices that are widely recognized as generally accepted but that are not subject to due process.
The Board believes that the GAAP hierarchy should be directed to entities because it is the entity (not its auditor) that is responsible for selecting accounting principles for financial statements that are presented in conformity with GAAP. Accordingly, the Board concluded that the GAAP hierarchy should reside in the accounting literature established by the FASB and is issuing this Statement to achieve that result.
This Statement is effective 60 days following the SEC’s approval of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board amendments to AU Section 411, The Meaning of Present Fairly in Conformity With Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.
How Will This Statement Change Current Practice?
The Board does not expect that this Statement will result in a change in current practice. However, transition provisions have been provided in the unusual circumstance that the application of the provisions of this Statement results in a change in practice.