Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Stay Connected: Twitter Facebook Flickr RSS E-Mail

Click Plus Sign Icon to expand menu items
Click Minus Sign Icon to collapse menu items

Skip Navigation Links.
ExpandAS No. 1: References in Auditors’ Reports to the Standards of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board
ExpandAS No. 3: Audit Documentation
ExpandAS No. 4: Reporting on Whether a Previously Reported Material Weakness Continues to Exist
ExpandAS No. 5: An Audit of Internal Control Over Financial Reporting That Is Integrated with An Audit of Financial Statements
ExpandAS No. 6: Evaluating Consistency of Financial Statements
ExpandAS No. 7: Engagement Quality Review
ExpandAS No. 8: Audit Risk
ExpandAS No. 9: Audit Planning
ExpandAS No. 10: Supervision of the Audit Engagement
ExpandAS No. 11: Consideration of Materiality in Planning and Performing an Audit
ExpandAS No. 12: Identifying and Assessing Risks of Material Misstatement
ExpandAS No. 13: The Auditor's Responses to the Risks of Material Misstatement
ExpandAS No. 14: Evaluating Audit Results
ExpandAS No. 15: Audit Evidence
ExpandAS No. 16: Communications with Audit Committees
ExpandAS No. 17: Auditing Supplemental Information Accompanying Audited Financial Statements
ExpandAU Section 100 - Statements on Auditing Standards -- Introduction
CollapseAU Section 200 - The General Standards
AU Section 201 - Nature of the General Standards
AU Section 210 - Training and Proficiency of the Independent Auditor
AU Section 220 - Independence
AU Section 230 - Due Professional Care in the Performance of Work
ExpandAU Section 300 - The Standards of Field Work
ExpandAU Section 400 - The First, Second, and Third Standards of Reporting
ExpandAU Section 500 - The Fourth Standard of Reporting
ExpandAU Section 600 - Other Types of Reports
ExpandAU Section 700 - Special Topics
ExpandAU Section 800 - Compliance Auditing
ExpandAU Section 900 - Special Reports of the Committee on Auditing Procedures

AU Section 220


Source: SAS No. 1, section 220.
Issue date, unless otherwise indicated: November, 1972.


The second general standard is:

In all matters relating to the assignment, an independence in mental attitude is to be maintained by the auditor or auditors.


This standard requires that the auditor be independent; aside from being in public practice (as distinct from being in private practice), he must be without bias with respect to the client since otherwise he would lack that impartiality necessary for the dependability of his findings, however excellent his technical proficiency may be. However, independence does not imply the attitude of a prosecutor but rather a judicial impartiality that recognizes an obligation for fairness not only to management and owners of a business but also to creditors and those who may otherwise rely (in part, at least) upon the independent auditor's report, as in the case of prospective owners or creditors.


It is of utmost importance to the profession that the general public maintain confidence in the independence of independent auditors. Public confidence would be impaired by evidence that independence was actually lacking, and it might also be impaired by the existence of circumstances which reasonable people might believe likely to influence independence. To be independent, the auditor must be intellectually honest; to be recognized as independent, he must be free from any obligation to or interest in the client, its management, or its owners. For example, an independent auditor auditing a company of which he was also a director might be intellectually honest, but it is unlikely that the public would accept him as independent since he would be in effect auditing decisions which he had a part in making. Likewise, an auditor with a substantial financial interest in a company might be unbiased in expressing his opinion on the financial statements of the company, but the public would be reluctant to believe that he was unbiased. Independent auditors should not only be independent in fact; they should avoid situations that may lead outsiders to doubt their independence.


The profession has established, through the AICPA's Code of Professional Conduct, precepts to guard against the presumption of loss of independence. "Presumption" is stressed because the possession of intrinsic independence is a matter of personal quality rather than of rules that formulate certain objective tests. Insofar as these precepts have been incorporated in the profession's code, they have the force of professional law for the independent auditor.


The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has also adopted requirements for independence of auditors who report on financial statements filed with it that differ from the AICPA requirements in certain respects. [fn 1]


The independent auditor should administer his practice within the spirit of these precepts and rules if he is to achieve a proper degree of independence in the conduct of his work.


To emphasize independence from management, many corporations follow the practice of having the independent auditor appointed by the board of directors or elected by the stockholders.

Footnotes (AU Section 220 — Independence):

[fn 1] [Footnote deleted, December 2001, to acknowledge the dissolution of the Independence Standard Board.]

Copyright © 2002, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Inc.