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AU Section 312A

Audit Risk and Materiality in Conducting an Audit fn *

Source: SAS No. 47; SAS No. 82.
See section 9312A for interpretations of this section.
Effective for audits of financial statements for periods beginning after June 30, 1984, unless otherwise indicated.

.01 

This section provides guidance on the auditor's consideration of audit risk and materiality when planning and performing an audit of financial statements in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. Audit risk and materiality affect the application of generally accepted auditing standards, especially the standards of field work and reporting, and are reflected in the auditor's standard report. Audit risk and materiality, among other matters, need to be considered together in determining the nature, timing, and extent of auditing procedures and in evaluating the results of those procedures.

.02

The existence of audit risk is recognized in the description of the responsibilities and functions of the independent auditor that states, "Because of the nature of audit evidence and the characteristics of fraud, the auditor is able to obtain reasonable, but not absolute, assurance that material misstatements are detected." fn 1 Audit risk  fn 2 is the risk that the auditor may unknowingly fail to appropriately modify his or her opinion on financial statements that are materially misstated. fn 3 [As amended, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

.03

The concept of materiality recognizes that some matters, either individually or in the aggregate, are important for fair presentation of financial statements in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles, fn 4 while other matters are not important. The representation in the auditor's standard report regarding fair presentation, in all material respects, in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles indicates the auditor's belief that the financial statements taken as a whole are not materially misstated. [As amended, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82. Revised, October 2000, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 93.]

.04

Financial statements are materially misstated when they contain misstatements whose effect, individually or in the aggregate, is important enough to cause them not to be presented fairly, in all material respects, in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles. Misstatements can result from errors or fraud. fn 5 [As amended, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

.05

In planning the audit, the auditor is concerned with matters that could be material to the financial statements. The auditor has no responsibility to plan and perform the audit to obtain reasonable assurance that misstatements, whether caused by errors or fraud, that are not material to the financial statements are detected. [Paragraph added, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

.06

The term errors refers to unintentional misstatements or omissions of amounts or disclosures in financial statements. Errors may involve—

  • Mistakes in gathering or processing data from which financial statements are prepared.
  • Unreasonable accounting estimates arising from oversight or misinterpretation of facts.
  • Mistakes in the application of accounting principles relating to amount, classification, manner of presentation, or disclosure. fn 6

[Paragraph added, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

.07

Although fraud is a broad legal concept, the auditor's interest specifically relates to fraudulent acts that cause a misstatement of financial statements. Two types of misstatements are relevant to the auditor's consideration in a financial statement audit—misstatements arising from fraudulent financial reporting and misstatements arising from misappropriation of assets. These two types of misstatements are further described in section 316, Consideration of Fraud in a Financial Statement Audit. The primary factor that distinguishes fraud from error is whether the underlying action that results in the misstatement in financial statements is intentional or unintentional. [Paragraph added, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

.08

When considering the auditor's responsibility to obtain reasonable assurance that the financial statements are free from material misstatement, there is no important distinction between errors and fraud. There is a distinction, however, in the auditor's response to detected misstatements. Generally, an isolated, immaterial error in processing accounting data or applying accounting principles is not significant to the audit. In contrast, when fraud is detected, the auditor should consider the implications for the integrity of management or employees and the possible effect on other aspects of the audit. [Paragraph added, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

.09

When concluding as to whether the effect of misstatements, individually or in the aggregate, is material, an auditor ordinarily should consider their nature and amount in relation to the nature and amount of items in the financial statements under audit. For example, an amount that is material to the financial statements of one entity may not be material to the financial statements of another entity of a different size or nature. Also, what is material to the financial statements of a particular entity might change from one period to another. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.10

The auditor's consideration of materiality is a matter of professional judgment and is influenced by his or her perception of the needs of a reasonable person who will rely on the financial statements. The perceived needs of a reasonable person are recognized in the discussion of materiality in Financial Accounting Standards Board Statement of Financial Accounting Concepts No. 2, Qualitative Characteristics of Accounting Information, which defines materiality as "the magnitude of an omission or misstatement of accounting information that, in the light of surrounding circumstances, makes it probable that the judgment of a reasonable person relying on the information would have been changed or influenced by the omission or misstatement." That discussion recognizes that materiality judgments are made in light of surrounding circumstances and necessarily involve both quantitative and qualitative considerations. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.11

As a result of the interaction of quantitative and qualitative considerations in materiality judgments, misstatements of relatively small amounts that come to the auditor's attention could have a material effect on the financial statements. For example, an illegal payment of an otherwise immaterial amount could be material if there is a reasonable possibility that it could lead to a material contingent liability or a material loss of revenue. fn 7 [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

Planning the Audit 

.12

The auditor should consider audit risk and materiality both in (a) planning the audit and designing auditing procedures and (b) evaluating whether the financial statements taken as a whole are presented fairly, in all material respects, in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles. The auditor should consider audit risk and materiality in the first circumstance to obtain sufficient competent evidential matter on which to properly evaluate the financial statements in the second circumstance. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

Considerations at the Financial Statements Level [fn 8]

.13

The auditor should plan the audit so that audit risk will be limited to a low level that is, in his or her professional judgment, appropriate for expressing an opinion on the financial statements. Audit risk may be assessed in quantitative or nonquantitative terms. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.14

Section 311, Planning and Supervision, requires the auditor, in planning the audit, to take into consideration, among other matters, his or her preliminary judgment about materiality levels for audit purposes. fn 9 That judgment may or may not be quantified. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.15

According to section 311, the nature, timing, and extent of planning and thus of the considerations of audit risk and materiality vary with the size and complexity of the entity, the auditor's experience with the entity, and his or her knowledge of the entity's business. Certain entity-related factors also affect the nature, timing, and extent of auditing procedures with respect to specific account balances and classes of transactions and related assertions. (See paragraphs .24 through .33.) [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.16

An assessment of the risk of material misstatement (whether caused by error or fraud) should be made during planning. The auditor's understanding of internal control may heighten or mitigate the auditor's concern about the risk of material misstatement. fn 10 In considering audit risk, the auditor should specifically assess the risk of material misstatement of the financial statements due to fraud. fn 11 The auditor should consider the effect of these assessments on the overall audit strategy and the expected conduct and scope of the audit. [Paragraph added, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

.17

Whenever the auditor has concluded that there is significant risk of material misstatement of the financial statements, the auditor should consider this conclusion in determining the nature, timing, or extent of procedures; assigning staff; or requiring appropriate levels of supervision. The knowledge, skill, and ability of personnel assigned significant engagement responsibilities should be commensurate with the auditor's assessment of the level of risk for the engagement. Ordinarily, higher risk requires more experienced personnel or more extensive supervision by the auditor with final responsibility for the engagement during both the planning and the conduct of the engagement. Higher risk may cause the auditor to expand the extent of procedures applied, apply procedures closer to or as of year end, particularly in critical audit areas, or modify the nature of procedures to obtain more persuasive evidence. [Paragraph added, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

.18

In an audit of an entity with operations in multiple locations or components, the auditor should consider the extent to which auditing procedures should be performed at selected locations or components. The factors an auditor should consider regarding the selection of a particular location or component include (a) the nature and amount of assets and transactions executed at the location or component, (b) the degree of centralization of records or information processing, (c) the effectiveness of the control environment, particularly with respect to management's direct control over the exercise of authority delegated to others and its ability to effectively supervise activities at the location or component, (d) the frequency, timing, and scope of monitoring activities by the entity or others at the location or component, and (e) judgments about materiality of the location or component. [Paragraph added, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

.19

In planning the audit, the auditor should use his or her judgment as to the appropriately low level of audit risk and his or her preliminary judgment about materiality levels in a manner that can be expected to provide, within the inherent limitations of the auditing process, sufficient evidential matter to obtain reasonable assurance about whether the financial statements are free of material misstatement. Materiality levels include an overall level for each statement; however, because the statements are interrelated, and for reasons of efficiency, the auditor ordinarily considers materiality for planning purposes in terms of the smallest aggregate level of misstatements that could be considered material to any one of the financial statements. For example, if the auditor believes that misstatements aggregating approximately $100,000 would have a material effect on income but that such misstatements would have to aggregate approximately $200,000 to materially affect financial position, it would not be appropriate for him or her to design auditing procedures that would be expected to detect misstatements only if they aggregate approximately $200,000. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.20

The auditor plans the audit to obtain reasonable assurance of detecting misstatements that he or she believes could be large enough, individually or in the aggregate, to be quantitatively material to the financial statements. Although the auditor should be alert for misstatements that could be qualitatively material, it ordinarily is not practical to design procedures to detect them. Section 326, Evidential Matter, states that "an auditor typically works within economic limits; his or her opinion, to be economically useful, must be formed within a reasonable length of time and at reasonable cost." [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.21

In some situations, the auditor considers materiality for planning purposes before the financial statements to be audited are prepared. In other situations, planning takes place after the financial statements under audit have been prepared, but the auditor may be aware that they require significant modification. In both types of situations, the auditor's preliminary judgment about materiality might be based on the entity's annualized interim financial statements or financial statements of one or more prior annual periods, as long as recognition is given to the effects of major changes in the entity's circumstances (for example, a significant merger) and relevant changes in the economy as a whole or the industry in which the entity operates. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.22

Assuming, theoretically, that the auditor's judgment about materiality at the planning stage was based on the same information available at the evaluation stage, materiality for planning and evaluation purposes would be the same. However, it ordinarily is not feasible for the auditor, when planning an audit, to anticipate all of the circumstances that may ultimately influence judgments about materiality in evaluating the audit findings at the completion of the audit. Thus, the auditor's preliminary judgment about materiality ordinarily will differ from the judgment about materiality used in evaluating the audit findings. If significantly lower materiality levels become appropriate in evaluating audit findings, the auditor should re-evaluate the sufficiency of the auditing procedures he or she has performed. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.23

In planning auditing procedures, the auditor should also consider the nature, cause (if known), and amount of misstatements that he or she is aware of from the audit of the prior period's financial statements. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

Considerations at the Individual Account-Balance or Class-of-Transactions Level

.24

The auditor recognizes that there is an inverse relationship between audit risk and materiality considerations. For example, the risk that a particular account balance or class of transactions and related assertions could be misstated by an extremely large amount might be very low, but the risk that it could be misstated by an extremely small amount might be very high. Holding other planning considerations equal, either a decrease in the level of audit risk that the auditor judges to be appropriate in an account balance or a class of transactions or a decrease in the amount of misstatements in the balance or class that the auditor believes could be material would require the auditor to do one or more of the following: (a) select a more effective auditing procedure, (b) perform auditing procedures closer to year end, or (c) increase the extent of a particular auditing procedure. [Paragraph renumbered and amended, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

.25

In determining the nature, timing, and extent of auditing procedures to be applied to a specific account balance or class of transactions, the auditor should design procedures to obtain reasonable assurance of detecting misstatements that he or she believes, based on the preliminary judgment about materiality, could be material, when aggregated with misstatements in other balances or classes, to the financial statements taken as a whole. Auditors use various methods to design procedures to detect such misstatements. In some cases, auditors explicitly estimate, for planning purposes, the maximum amount of misstatements in the balance or class that, when combined with misstatements in other balances or classes, could exist without causing the financial statements to be materially misstated. In other cases, auditors relate their preliminary judgment about materiality to a specific account balance or class of transactions without explicitly estimating such misstatements. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.26

The auditor needs to consider audit risk at the individual account-balance or class-of-transactions level because such consideration directly assists in determining the scope of auditing procedures for the balance or class and related assertions. The auditor should seek to restrict audit risk at the individual balance or class level in such a way that will enable him or her, at the completion of the audit, to express an opinion on the financial statements taken as a whole at an appropriately low level of audit risk. Auditors use various approaches to accomplish that objective. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.27

At the account-balance or class-of-transactions level, audit risk consists of (a) the risk (consisting of inherent risk and control risk) that the balance or class and related assertions contain misstatements (whether caused by error or fraud) that could be material to the financial statements when aggregated with misstatements in other balances or classes and (b) the risk (detection risk) that the auditor will not detect such misstatements. The discussion that follows describes audit risk in terms of three component risks. fn 12 The way the auditor considers these component risks and combines them involves professional judgment and depends on the audit approach.

  1. Inherent risk is the susceptibility of an assertion to a material misstatement, assuming that there are no related controls. The risk of such misstatement is greater for some assertions and related balances or classes than for others. For example, complex calculations are more likely to be misstated than simple calculations. Cash is more susceptible to theft than an inventory of coal. Accounts consisting of amounts derived from accounting estimates pose greater risks than do accounts consisting of relatively routine, factual data. External factors also influence inherent risk. For example, technological developments might make a particular product obsolete, thereby causing inventory to be more susceptible to overstatement. In addition to those factors that are peculiar to a specific assertion for an account balance or a class of transactions, factors that relate to several or all of the balances or classes may influence the inherent risk related to an assertion for a specific balance or class. These latter factors include, for example, a lack of sufficient working capital to continue operations or a declining industry characterized by a large number of business failures.
  2. Control risk is the risk that a material misstatement that could occur in an assertion will not be prevented or detected on a timely basis by the entity's internal control. That risk is a function of the effectiveness of the design and operation of internal control in achieving the entity's objectives relevant to preparation of the entity's financial statements. Some control risk will always exist because of the inherent limitations of internal control.
  3. Detection risk is the risk that the auditor will not detect a material misstatement that exists in an assertion. Detection risk is a function of the effectiveness of an auditing procedure and of its application by the auditor. It arises partly from uncertainties that exist when the auditor does not examine 100 percent of an account balance or a class of transactions and partly because of other uncertainties that exist even if he or she were to examine 100 percent of the balance or class. Such other uncertainties arise because an auditor might select an inappropriate auditing procedure, misapply an appropriate procedure, or misinterpret the audit results. These other uncertainties can be reduced to a negligible level through adequate planning and supervision and conduct of a firm's audit practice in accordance with appropriate quality control standards.

[Paragraph renumbered and amended, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

.28

Inherent risk and control risk differ from detection risk in that they exist independently of the audit of financial statements, whereas detection risk relates to the auditor's procedures and can be changed at his or her discretion. Detection risk should bear an inverse relationship to inherent and control risk. The less the inherent and control risk the auditor believes exists, the greater the detection risk that can be accepted. Conversely, the greater the inherent and control risk the auditor believes exists, the less the detection risk that can be accepted. These components of audit risk may be assessed in quantitative terms such as percentages or in nonquantitative terms that range, for example, from a minimum to a maximum. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.29

When the auditor assesses inherent risk for an assertion related to an account balance or a class of transactions, he or she evaluates numerous factors that involve professional judgment. In doing so, the auditor considers not only factors peculiar to the related assertion, but also, other factors pervasive to the financial statements taken as a whole that may also influence inherent risk related to the assertion. If an auditor concludes that the effort required to assess inherent risk for an assertion would exceed the potential reduction in the extent of auditing procedures derived from such an assessment, the auditor should assess inherent risk as being at the maximum when designing auditing procedures. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.30

The auditor also uses professional judgment in assessing control risk for an assertion related to the account balance or class of transactions. The auditor's assessment of control risk is based on the sufficiency of evidential matter obtained to support the effectiveness of internal control in preventing or detecting misstatements in financial statement assertions. If the auditor believes controls are unlikely to pertain to an assertion or are unlikely to be effective, or believes that evaluating their effectiveness would be inefficient, he or she would assess control risk for that assertion at the maximum. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.31

The auditor might make separate or combined assessments of inherent risk and control risk. If the auditor considers inherent risk or control risk, separately or in combination, to be less than the maximum, he or she should have an appropriate basis for these assessments. This basis may be obtained, for example, through the use of questionnaires, checklists, instructions, or similar generalized materials and, in the case of control risk, the understanding of internal control and the performance of suitable tests of controls. However, professional judgment is required in interpreting, adapting, or expanding such generalized material as appropriate in the circumstances. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.32

The detection risk that the auditor can accept in the design of auditing procedures is based on the level to which he or she seeks to restrict audit risk related to the account balance or class of transactions and on the assessment of inherent and control risks. As the auditor's assessment of inherent risk and control risk decreases, the detection risk that can be accepted increases. It is not appropriate, however, for an auditor to rely completely on assessments of inherent risk and control risk to the exclusion of performing substantive tests of account balances and classes of transactions where misstatements could exist that might be material when aggregated with misstatements in other balances or classes. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.33

An audit of financial statements is a cumulative process; as the auditor performs planned auditing procedures, the evidence obtained may cause him or her to modify the nature, timing, and extent of other planned procedures. As a result of performing auditing procedures or from other sources during the audit, information may come to the auditor's attention that differs significantly from the information on which the audit plan was based. For example, the extent of misstatements detected may alter the judgment about the levels of inherent and control risks, and other information obtained about the financial statements may alter the preliminary judgment about materiality. In such cases, the auditor may need to re-evaluate the auditing procedures he or she plans to apply, based on the revised consideration of audit risk and materiality for all or certain of the account balances or classes of transactions and related assertions. [Paragraph renumbered and amended, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

Evaluating Audit Findings

.34

In evaluating whether the financial statements are presented fairly, in all material respects, in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles, the auditor should aggregate misstatements that the entity has not corrected in a way that enables him or her to consider whether, in relation to individual amounts, subtotals, or totals in the financial statements, they materially misstate the financial statements taken as a whole. Qualitative considerations also influence the auditor in reaching a conclusion as to whether misstatements are material. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.35

The aggregation of misstatements should include the auditor's best estimate of the total misstatements in the account balances or classes of transactions that he or she has examined (hereafter referred to as likely misstatement fn 13), not just the amount of misstatements specifically identified (hereafter referred to as known misstatement). fn 14 When the auditor tests an account balance or a class of transactions and related assertions by an analytical procedure, he or she ordinarily would not specifically identify misstatements but would only obtain an indication of whether misstatement might exist in the balance or class and possibly its approximate magnitude. If the analytical procedure indicates that a misstatement might exist, but not its approximate amount, the auditor ordinarily would have to employ other procedures to enable him or her to estimate the likely misstatement in the balance or class. When an auditor uses audit sampling to test an assertion for an account balance or a class of transactions, he or she projects the amount of known misstatements identified in the sample to the items in the balance or class from which the sample was selected. That projected misstatement, along with the results of other substantive tests, contributes to the auditor's assessment of likely misstatement in the balance or class. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.36

The risk of material misstatement of the financial statements is generally greater when account balances and classes of transactions include accounting estimates rather than essentially factual data because of the inherent subjectivity in estimating future events. Estimates, such as those for inventory obsolescence, uncollectible receivables, and warranty obligations, are subject not only to the unpredictability of future events but also to misstatements that may arise from using inadequate or inappropriate data or misapplying appropriate data. Since no one accounting estimate can be considered accurate with certainty, the auditor recognizes that a difference between an estimated amount best supported by the audit evidence and the estimated amount included in the financial statements may be reasonable, and such difference would not be considered to be a likely misstatement. However, if the auditor believes the estimated amount included in the financial statements is unreasonable, he or she should treat the difference between that estimate and the closest reasonable estimate as a likely misstatement and aggregate it with other likely misstatements. The auditor should also consider whether the difference between estimates best supported by the audit evidence and the estimates included in the financial statements, which are individually reasonable, indicate a possible bias on the part of the entity's management. For example, if each accounting estimate included in the financial statements was individually reasonable, but the effect of the difference between each estimate and the estimate best supported by the audit evidence was to increase income, the auditor should reconsider the estimates taken as a whole. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.37

In prior periods, likely misstatements may not have been corrected by the entity because they did not cause the financial statements for those periods to be materially misstated. Those misstatements might also affect the current period's financial statements. fn 15 If the auditor believes that there is an unacceptably high risk that the current period's financial statements may be materially misstated when those prior-period likely misstatements that affect the current period's financial statements are considered along with likely misstatements arising in the current period, the auditor should include in aggregate likely misstatement the effect on the current period's financial statements of those prior-period likely misstatements. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.38

If the auditor concludes, based on the accumulation of sufficient evidential matter, that the aggregation of likely misstatements causes the financial statements to be materially misstated, the auditor should request management to eliminate the material misstatement. If the material misstatement is not eliminated, the auditor should issue a qualified or an adverse opinion on the financial statements. Material misstatements may be eliminated by, for example, application of appropriate accounting principles, other adjustments in amounts, or the addition of appropriate disclosure of inadequately disclosed matters. Even though the aggregate effect of likely misstatements on the financial statements may be immaterial, the auditor should recognize that an accumulation of immaterial misstatements in the balance sheet could contribute to material misstatements of future financial statements. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.39

If the auditor concludes that the aggregation of likely misstatements does not cause the financial statements to be materially misstated, he or she should recognize that they could still be materially misstated because of further misstatement remaining undetected. As aggregate likely misstatement increases, the risk that the financial statements may be materially misstated also increases. The auditor generally reduces this risk of material misstatement in planning the audit by restricting the extent of detection risk he or she is willing to accept for an assertion related to an account balance or a class of transactions. The auditor can reduce this risk of material misstatement by modifying the nature, timing, and extent of planned auditing procedures on a continuous basis in performing the audit. (See paragraph .33.) Nevertheless, if the auditor believes that such risk is unacceptably high, he or she should perform additional auditing procedures or satisfy himself or herself that the entity has adjusted the financial statements to reduce the risk of material misstatement to an acceptable level. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

.40

In aggregating known and likely misstatements that the entity has not corrected, pursuant to paragraphs .34 and .35, the auditor may designate an amount below which misstatements need not be accumulated. This amount should be set so that any such misstatements, either individually or when aggregated with other such misstatements, would not be material to the financial statements, after the possibility of further undetected misstatements is considered. [Paragraph added, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

Effective Date

.41

This section is effective for audits of financial statements for periods beginning after June 30, 1984. [Paragraph renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

Footnotes (AU Section 312A — Audit Risk and Materiality in Conducting an Audit):

fn * This section has been revised to reflect the conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards Nos. 53 through 62.

fn 1 See section 110, Responsibilities and Functions of the Independent Auditor, and section 230, Due Professional Care in the Performance of Work, for a further discussion of reasonable assurance. [As amended, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

fn 2 In addition to audit risk, the auditor is also exposed to loss or injury to his or her professional practice from litigation, adverse publicity, or other events arising in connection with financial statements audited and reported on. This exposure is present even though the auditor has performed the audit in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards and has reported appropriately on those financial statements. Even if an auditor assesses this exposure as low, the auditor should not perform less extensive procedures than would otherwise be appropriate under generally accepted auditing standards.

fn 3 This definition of audit risk does not include the risk that the auditor might erroneously conclude that the financial statements are materially misstated. In such a situation, the auditor would ordinarily reconsider or extend auditing procedures and request that the client perform specific tasks to re-evaluate the appropriateness of the financial statements. These steps would ordinarily lead the auditor to the correct conclusion. This definition also excludes the risk of an inappropriate reporting decision unrelated to the detection and evaluation of misstatements in the financial statements, such as an inappropriate decision regarding the form of the auditor's report because of a limitation on the scope of the audit. [As amended, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

fn 4 The concepts of audit risk and materiality also are applicable to financial statements presented in conformity with a comprehensive basis of accounting other than generally accepted accounting principles; references in this section to financial statements presented in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles also include those presentations.

fn 5 The auditor's consideration of illegal acts and responsibility for detecting misstatements resulting from illegal acts is defined in section 317, Illegal Acts by Clients. For those illegal acts that are defined in that section as having a direct and material effect on the determination of financial statement amounts, the auditor's responsibility to detect misstatements resulting from such illegal acts is the same as that for errors or fraud. [Footnote added, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

fn 6 Errors do not include the effect of accounting processes employed for convenience, such as maintaining accounting records on the cash basis or the tax basis and periodically adjusting those records to prepare financial statements in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles. [Footnote added, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

fn 7 See section 317. [Footnote renumbered and amended, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

[fn 8] [Footnote renumbered and deleted by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

fn 9 This section amends section 311, Planning and Supervision, paragraph .03e, by substituting the words "Preliminary judgment about materiality levels" in place of the words "Preliminary estimates of materiality levels." [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

fn 10 See section 319, Consideration of Internal Control in a Financial Statement Audit. [Footnote added, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

fn 11 See section 316. [Footnote added, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

fn 12 The formula in the appendix [paragraph .48] to section 350, Audit Sampling, describes audit risk in terms of four component risks. Detection risk is presented in terms of two components: the risk that analytical procedures and other relevant substantive tests would fail to detect misstatements equal to tolerable misstatement, and the allowable risk of incorrect acceptance for the substantive test of details. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

fn 13 See section 316.33-.35 for a further discussion of the auditor's consideration of differences between the accounting records and the underlying facts and circumstances. Those paragraphs provide specific guidance on the auditor's consideration of an audit adjustment that is, or may be, the result of fraud. [Footnote renumbered and amended, effective for audits of financial statements for periods ending on or after December 15, 1997, by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82.]

fn 14 If the auditor were to examine all of the items in a balance or a class, the likely misstatement applicable to recorded transactions in the balance or class would be the amount of known misstatements specifically identified. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

fn 15 The measurement of the effect, if any, on the current period's financial statements of misstatements uncorrected in prior periods involves accounting considerations and is therefore not addressed in this section. [Footnote renumbered by the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 82, February 1997.]

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