Independent auditors agree on the existence of a body of generally accepted accounting principles, and they are knowledgeable about these principles and in the determination of their general acceptance. Nevertheless, the determination that a particular accounting principle is generally accepted may be difficult because no single reference source exists for all such principles. The sources of established accounting principles that are generally accepted in the United States of America are—
- Accounting principles promulgated by a body designated by the AICPA Council to establish such principles, pursuant to rule 203 [ET section 203.01] of the AICPA Code of Professional Conduct. Rule 203 [ET section 203.01] provides that an auditor should not express an unqualified opinion if the financial statements contain a material departure from such pronouncements unless, due to unusual circumstances, adherence to the pronouncements would make the statements misleading. Rule 203 [ET section 203.01] implies that application of officially established accounting principles almost always results in the fair presentation of financial position, results of operations, and cash flows, in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles. Nevertheless, rule 203 [ET section 203.01] provides for the possibility that literal application of such a pronouncement might, in unusual circumstances, result in misleading financial statements. (See section 508, Reports on Audited Financial Statements, paragraphs .14 and .15.)
- Pronouncements of bodies, composed of expert accountants, that deliberate accounting issues in public forums for the purpose of establishing accounting principles or describing existing accounting practices that are generally accepted, provided those pronouncements have been exposed for public comment and have been cleared by a body referred to in category (a). fn 2
- Pronouncements of bodies, organized by a body referred to in category (a) and composed of expert accountants, that deliberate accounting issues in public forums for the purpose of interpreting or establishing accounting principles or describing existing accounting practices that are generally accepted, or pronouncements referred to in category (b) that have been cleared by a body referred to in category (a) but have not been exposed for public comment.
- Practices or pronouncements that are widely recognized as being generally accepted because they represent prevalent practice in a particular industry, or the knowledgeable application to specific circumstances of pronouncements that are generally accepted.
[Revised, October 2000, to reflect conforming changes necessary due to the issuance of Statement on Auditing Standards No. 93.]