Financial Reporting Issues in 2023: A Closer Look at Prior Period Adjustments

Cover Image for Financial Reporting Issues in 2023: A Closer Look at Prior Period Adjustments

| Lindsay Webber

As we move further into 2023, financial reporting continues to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing business landscape. One area that has seen a significant increase in queries and concerns is the treatment of prior period adjustments. This blog post will delve into the intricacies of accounting for prior period adjustments, highlighting the importance of materiality, restatement, and disclosure requirements.

Understanding Prior Period Adjustments

Prior period adjustments refer to the correction of errors or omissions in the financial statements of previous periods. These adjustments can arise from various reasons, such as misinterpretation of accounting standards, incorrect application of accounting policies, or simple clerical errors. When faced with a prior period adjustment, the first step is to determine its materiality.

Materiality: The Key Consideration

Materiality is a crucial concept in accounting and auditing, as it helps determine the significance of an item or error in the financial statements. According to FS 102, an item is considered material if it would change the decisions of a user of the financial statements. To assess materiality, one must consider the users of the financial statements and the decisions they make based on the information presented.

If an adjustment is deemed material, the comparative amounts in the financial statements must be restated. This involves showing the word "restated" in the headers of all relevant comparatives, such as the balance sheet, profit and loss statement, and notes. Additionally, a note to the financial statements should be included, detailing the nature of the prior period error, the amount of the correction for each financial statement line item affected, and any changes at the beginning of the earliest prior period presented.

Restating Comparative Amounts

When restating comparative amounts, it is essential to present the financial statements as if the error had never occurred. For example, if there was a mistake in the turnover for 2021, the restated financial statements should show the corrected turnover amount with "restated" above the column header. This approach ensures that the financial statements accurately reflect the company's financial position and performance as if the error had never happened.

Disclosing Prior Period Adjustments

In addition to restating comparative amounts, companies must also disclose the details of prior period adjustments in the notes to the financial statements. This disclosure should include the nature of the error, the amounts involved, and the impact on each affected line item. By providing this information, users of the financial statements can better understand the adjustments made and their implications on the company's financial position and performance.

Conclusion

As financial reporting continues to evolve, it is crucial for accountants and auditors to stay informed about emerging issues and best practices. Prior period adjustments are one such area that has seen increased attention in recent years. By understanding the importance of materiality, restatement, and disclosure requirements, professionals can ensure that they are adequately addressing prior period adjustments and providing accurate, transparent financial information to users.

If you require assistance or advice in relation to any of the above matters, please contact our team on 053 91 000 00 or email [email protected].

The contents of this article are meant as a guide only and are not a substitute for professional advice. The authors accept no responsibility for any action taken, or refrained from, as a result of the material contained in this document. Specific advice should be obtained before acting or refraining from acting, in connection with the matters dealt with in this article.

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About the Author

As a member of our Practice Support team, Lindsay’s focus is on helping practices achieve on-going best practice compliance, providing in-house training, technical assistance, and file reviews. Lindsay is a member of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants and Chartered Accountants Ireland. She trained with KPMG in Johannesburg and specialised in external audit of financial services companies. She then spent six years lecturing audit and financial reporting to under-grad and post-grad students at Rhodes University in South Africa before moving to Ireland and returning to practice in a small, and then a medium sized firm where she was an audit manager. Altogether, she has over six years external audit experience along with over six years academic experience specialising in Audit and Financial Accounting. She is passionate about combining her academic and practice backgrounds to provide technical information in a useful and practical way. Outside of her accounting qualifications Lindsay holds a PGDiploma in Higher Education from Rhodes University and graduated with distinction from the MBA course at Trinity College Dublin. She is currently working towards a Diploma in Forensic Accounting through Chartered Accountants Ireland.

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