Practitioners use their best judgment when following and interpreting these principles, which may result in some differences amongst individuals or organizations. Unlike companies that follow GAAP, these organizations can gain some leeway or create exceptions in their accounting process. They determine how to apply the IFRS principles depending on different situations or circumstances. In the GAAP income statement the dividends paid are accounted for in the financing section while in IFRS standards choice of categorizing dividends is given which can be in either the operating or financing section. Ray J. Ball declared that IFRS has the potential to increase the quality of information and reduce the cost to compare various investment opportunities. Apart from the opportunities, some scepticism was also expressed like the enforcement could bring lax copper regional differences can become obscure and fair emphasis may not be laid everywhere.

A major difference between GAAP vs. IFRS is that the latter is principle-based whereas GAAP is rule-based. The principle-based approach opens the window for different interpretations of similar transactions.

The Difference Between Gaap And Ifrs

During its first meeting the new Board adopted existing IAS and Standing Interpretations Committee standards . The IASB has continued to develop standards calling the new standards «International Financial Reporting Standards» . GAAP, being rules-based, provides strict rules on how companies must recognize income. Usually, it requires them to record revenues under the completed contract method. Companies can use a five-step process to recognize revenues. One of the fundamental areas where the accounting treatment differs in GAAP and IFRS is inventory.


More than 144 countries around the world currently use the IFRS, including Canada, Mexico and nations in the European Union, Asia and South America. The GAAP solely applies to public organizations within the United States. As a result, companies that operate within the United States and other countries may encounter some accounting complexities and seek out finance professionals who understand both frameworks.

Implications Of Potential Convergence

Assets and liabilities must be classified as current or non-current on the balance sheet (IAS No. 1), but there is no requirement that current assets be listed before non-current accounts. For investors looking at the financial statements of companies, they must exercise caution when the standard is not followed. The important difference from this change, that companies with leases may see a material increase in non-current assets and the corresponding debt obligations on their balance sheets, is relevant for both US GAAP and IFRS. For example, an infrastructure company can choose to defer the revenue recognition until a dividend is declared on completion of a project, under GAAP. This can allow them to delay declare any revenue in this period of time, which is specific to infrastructure companies, in which they are adding value. Stay informed with our biweekly resource for recent financial reporting developments, including AICPA, SEC, PCAOB matters and other finance and accounting compliance considerations.

GAAP stands for generally accepted accounting principles and is the standard adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission in the U.S. We all, particularly U.S. investors and companies, have a very strong interest in such standards. Global standards facilitate decision making about cross-border investments, transactions, and acquisition opportunities. Standard setters and the Commission also have a strong interest in building and maintaining high-quality standards that can be applied comparably across borders to better inform and protect investors. Charles Lee, professor of accounting at Stanford Graduate School of Business, has also criticised the use of fair values in financial reporting.

  • US GAAP lists assets in decreasing order of liquidity (i.e. current assets before non-current assets), whereas IFRS reports assets in increasing order of liquidity (i.e. non-current assets before current assets).
  • In the United States, foreign listed companies may use IFRS and are no longer required to reconcile their financial statements with GAAP.
  • GAAP and IFRS contrast in how they handle inventory valuation, too.
  • IFRSs create accounting volatility that does not reflect the economic reality.
  • Financial reporting and accounting are governed by a specific set of rules and standards.
  • Since past few years, IFRS has gained significant importance, due to which over hundred countries of the world have adopted IFRS as the standard for accounting.

For now, the remaining projects under the Memorandum of Understanding have been deferred, and there are no current projects on which the boards are working together toward converged solutions. The first approach to solving this problem using SAP ERP products is simply to create additional general ledger accounts that only appear on one version of the financials. GAAP as its primary standard might create two additional accounts to handle IFRS adjustments for the revaluation of assets. If an asset has appreciated in value, a debit to an IFRS-specific asset account and a credit to a corresponding IFRS-specific income account would occur. The company can produce reports that conform to both standards by designing two different versions of the financial statements, with one including the IFRS accounts and another excluding them. As of September 2016, these companies alone represented a worldwide market capitalization in excess of $7 trillion across more than 500 companies.U.S. Investors also routinely invest in companies based outside the United States and registered in non-U.S.

Main Differences Between Gaap And Ifrs

Definition of an asset The US GAAP framework defines an asset as a future economic benefit. The IFRS framework defines an asset as a resource from which future economic benefit will flow to the company. Accounting and reporting standards, revenue recognition, and the approach to reporting non-financial assets are the three main differences between IFRS and U.S. These four aspects of IFRS are believed to produce more transparent financial statements backed by straightforward thinking and flexible interpreting of accounting and reporting standards. This approach encourages a more ethical judgment than following the normal rule based U.S.

Companies that follow US GAAP are required to list assets in the balance sheet in order of decreasing liquidity. Therefore, current assets must be listed before non-current assets. In regards to the income statement, public companies in the United States are required to present three periods while companies following IFRS only need to report two periods. A balance sheet provides an overview of an organization’s financial performance during a specified period.

For example, the last-in, first-out inventory method is common in the United States, but it’s not permitted under IFRS. Under GAAP, a company shows extraordinary or unusual items below the net income section of the income statement. One major difference between GAAP vs. IFRS is the inventory write-down reversal treatment. Under GAAP, if the market value of an asset increases, the company can’t reverse the amount of write-down. On the other hand, under IFRS, a company can reverse the amount of write-down. We can say that GAAP is conservative when it comes to the inventory reversal and refrains from reflecting any positive changes in the marketplace.


Issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board , GAAP is a set of principles that companies based in the United States need to adhere to when preparing their financial statements. Find out everything you need to know about IFRS vs. GAAP, including the key points of difference and the potential for the future convergence of the IFRS and GAAP accounting standards. IFRS are a set of standards that establish broad rules that each company must follow; Canadian GAAP was a loose set of guidelines dealing with accounting.


Financial reporting tends to provide and facilitate comparison between companies allowing both cross-sectional and also time series analysis. Income statements are also a bit different under the two sets of standards. Under IFRS, entities can classify expenses either by function or nature . If a functional classification is chosen, then at the very least, allocations must be made to present selling expenses separately. While GAAP itself has no such requirement, SEC registrants must follow specific rules, which include functional categories and specific line item descriptions. In practice, most US entities use a functional classification.

This results in some gaming of the system, as users create transactions that are intended to manipulate the rules in order to achieve better financial results. The rules basis also results in very large standards, so that the text of GAAP is much larger than the text of IFRS. IFRS is principles based, so that general guidelines are set forth, and users are expected to use their best judgment in following the principles. GAAP is a set of accounting guidelines and procedures, used by the companies to prepare their financial statements. IFRS is the universal business language followed by the companies while reporting financial statements. Internal costs to create intangible assets, such as development costs, are capitalized under IFRS when certain criteria are met. These criteria include consideration of the future economic benefits.

A Roadmap To Comparing Ifrs Standards And U S Gaap: Bridging The Differences

Under GAAP, development costs are expensed as incurred, with the exception of internally developed software. For software that will be used externally, costs are capitalized once technological feasibility has been demonstrated. If the software will only be used internally, GAAP requires capitalization only during the development stage.

The SEC has stricter rules on the use of non-GAAP measures, so differences are more likely. If you want to further your accounting knowledge, it’s critical to understand the standards that guide how companies record transactions and report finances. Here’s a look at the two primary sets of accounting standards—GAAP and IFRS—and how they compare. Accounting principles are the rules and guidelines that companies must follow when reporting financial data. Today, IFRS has become the global standard for the preparation of public company financial statements and 144 out of 166 jurisdictions require IFRS standards. In 2001 the International Accounting Standards Board replaced the IASC with a remit to bring about convergence between national accounting standards through the development of global accounting standards.

Qualitative characteristics Relevance, reliability, comparability and understandability. Relevance, reliability, comparability and understandability. The IASB framework states that its decision cannot be based upon specific circumstances of individual users.

Continued engagement will facilitate the development of standards that recognize and address the differences across jurisdictions without sacrificing financial reporting quality. IFRS define how companies must maintain their records and report various items. Primarily, it covers two aspects of the financial statements, financial performance and position. On top of that, it also instructs companies in reporting cash flows and other areas. IFRS also guide companies on how to record transactions consistently with others. International Financial Reporting Standards, also known as IFRS, are a set of accounting rules.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has found 29 specific areas of difference in application between GAAP and IFRS. However, the broad points of comparison concern the way in which the two frameworks are structured, how financial statements are presented, the definitions of assets and liabilities, and revenue recognition.

The lease standards for both US GAAP and IFRS requires leases with terms greater than one year to be reported on the balance sheet as right of use assets. One difference between the two standards is that US GAAP classifies the GAAP vs IFRS leases as either operating or finance leases whereas there is no classification of leases under IFRS . In addition, there is a de minimis exception under IFRS where lessees are allowed to exclude leases for lower value assets.

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