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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
ExpandAU Section 200 - The General Standards
ExpandAU Section 300 - The Standards of Field Work
CollapseAU Section 400 - The First, Second, and Third Standards of Reporting
AU Section 410 - Adherence to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
AU Section 9410 - Adherence to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles: Auditing Interpretations of Section 410
AU Section 411 - The Meaning of Present Fairly in Conformity With Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
AU Section 435 - Segment Information
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 9410

Adherence to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles: Auditing Interpretations of Section 410

[1.]    Accounting Principles Recommended by Trade Associations [fn 1]


[Withdrawn August, 1982 by Statement on Auditing Standards No. 43.]

[2.]    The Impact of FASB Statement No. 2 on Auditor's Report Issued Prior to the Statement's Effective Date fn 2


[Superseded October, 1979 by Interpretation No. 3, paragraphs .13–.18.]

3.    The Impact on an Auditor's Report of an FASB Statement Prior to the Statement's Effective Date


Question—What is the impact on the auditor's report when he is reporting on financial statements issued before the effective date of a Statement of Financial Accounting Standards and the financial statements will have to be restated in the future because the FASB statement will require retroactive application of its provisions by prior period adjustment?


Interpretation—Where the accounting principles being followed are currently acceptable, the auditor should not qualify his opinion if a company does not adopt before an FASB Statement becomes effective accounting principles that will be prescribed by that Statement. For example, Financial Accounting Standards Board Statement No. 2 [AC section R50], Accounting for Research and Development Costs, was issued in October 1974, but was effective for fiscal years beginning on or after January 1, 1975. This Statement requires companies to expense research and development costs encompassed by the Statement in the period they are incurred. Companies that had deferred research and development costs were required to restate their financial statements by prior period adjustment in the period in which FASB Statement No. 2 [AC section R50] became effective. Deferring research and development costs before FASB Statement No. 2 [AC section R50] became effective was an acceptable alternative principle under GAAP, although FASB Statement No. 2 [AC section R50] proscribed such treatment for fiscal years beginning on or after January 1, 1975. Other reporting considerations are addressed in the following paragraphs.


Section 508, Reports on Audited Financial Statements, paragraph .41 states: "Information essential for a fair presentation in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles should be set forth in the financial statements (which include related notes)." For financial statements that are prepared on the basis of accounting principles that are acceptable at the financial-statement date but that will not be acceptable in the future, the auditor should consider whether disclosure of the impending change in principle and the resulting restatement are essential data. If he decides that the matter should be disclosed and it is not, the auditor should express a qualified or adverse opinion as to conformity with GAAP, as required by section 508.41.


To evaluate the adequacy of disclosure of the prospective change in principle, the auditor should assess the potential effect on the financial statements. Using the research and development cost example given above, the effect of the anticipated prior period adjustment to write off previously deferred research and development costs would in some instances be so material that disclosure would be essential for an understanding of the financial statements. In cases such as this, where the estimated impact is so material, disclosure can best be made by supplementing the historical financial statements with pro forma financial data that give effect to the future adjustment as if it had occurred on the date of the balance sheet. (See section 560.05.) The pro forma data may be presented in columnar form alongside the historical statements, in the notes to the historical statements, or in separate pro forma statements presented with the historical statements.


The auditor also should consider whether disclosure is needed for other effects that may result upon the required future adoption of an accounting principle. For example, the future adoption of such a principle may result in a reduction to stockholders' equity that may cause the company to be in violation of its debt covenants, which in turn may accelerate the due date for repayment of debt.


Even if the auditor decides that the disclosure of the forthcoming change and its effects are adequate and, consequently, decides not to qualify his opinion, he nevertheless may decide to include an explanatory paragraph in his report if the effects of the change are expected to be unusually material. The explanatory paragraph should not be construed as a qualification of the auditor's opinion; it is intended to highlight circumstances of particular importance and to aid in interpreting the financial statements (see section 508.19).

[Issue Date: October, 1979; Revised: December, 1992; Revised: June, 1993; Revised: February, 1997.]

Footnotes (AU Section 9410 — Adherence to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles: Auditing Interpretations of Section 410):

[fn 1] [Footnote deleted.]

fn 2 Originally issued under the title "Effect on the Auditor's Opinion of FASB Statement on Research and Development Costs" (Journal of Accountancy, Jan. '75, p. 74).

Copyright © 1997, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Inc.