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The auditor should use professional judgment in determining the nature, timing, and extent of the testing of journal entries and other adjustments. For purposes of identifying and selecting specific entries and other adjustments for testing, and determining the appropriate method of examining the underlying support for the items selected, the auditor should consider:
- The auditor's assessment of the risk of material misstatement due to fraud. The presence of fraud risk factors or other conditions may help the auditor to identify specific classes of journal entries for testing and indicate the extent of testing necessary.
- The effectiveness of controls that have been implemented over journal entries and other adjustments. Effective controls over the preparation and posting of journal entries and adjustments may affect the extent of substantive testing necessary, provided that the auditor has tested the operating effectiveness of those controls. However, even though controls might be implemented and operating effectively, the auditor's procedures for testing journal entries and other adjustments should include the identification and testing of specific items.
- The entity's financial reporting process and the nature of the evidence that can be examined. The auditor's procedures for testing journal entries and other adjustments will vary based on the nature of the financial reporting process. For many entities, routine processing of transactions involves a combination of manual and automated steps and procedures. Similarly, the processing of journal entries and other adjustments might involve both manual and automated procedures and controls. Regardless of the method, the auditor's procedures should include selecting from the general ledger journal entries to be tested and examining support for those items. In addition, the auditor should be aware that journal entries and other adjustments might exist in either electronic or paper form. When information technology (IT) is used in the financial reporting process, journal entries and other adjustments might exist only in electronic form. Electronic evidence often requires extraction of the desired data by an auditor with IT knowledge and skills or the use of an IT specialist. In an IT environment, it may be necessary for the auditor to employ computer-assisted audit techniques (for example, report writers, software or data extraction tools, or other systems-based techniques) to identify the journal entries and other adjustments to be tested.
- The characteristics of fraudulent entries or adjustments. Inappropriate journal entries and other adjustments often have certain unique identifying characteristics. Such characteristics may include entries (a) made to unrelated, unusual, or seldom-used accounts, (b) made by individuals who typically do not make journal entries, (c) recorded at the end of the period or as post-closing entries that have little or no explanation or description, (d) made either before or during the preparation of the financial statements that do not have account numbers, or (e) containing round numbers or a consistent ending number.
- The nature and complexity of the accounts. Inappropriate journal entries or adjustments may be applied to accounts that (a) contain transactions that are complex or unusual in nature, (b) contain significant estimates and period-end adjustments, (c) have been prone to errors in the past, (d) have not been reconciled on a timely basis or contain unreconciled differences, (e) contain intercompany transactions, or (f) are otherwise associated with an identified risk of material misstatement due to fraud. The auditor should recognize, however, that inappropriate journal entries and adjustments also might be made to other accounts. In audits of entities that have several locations or components, the auditor should consider the need to select journal entries from locations based on the factors set forth in section 312.18.
- Journal entries or other adjustments processed outside the normal course of business. Standard journal entries used on a recurring basis to record transactions such as monthly sales, purchases, and cash disbursements, or to record recurring periodic accounting estimates generally are subject to the entity's internal controls. Nonstandard entries (for example, entries used to record nonrecurring transactions, such as a business combination, or entries used to record a nonrecurring estimate, such as an asset impairment) might not be subject to the same level of internal control. In addition, other adjustments such as consolidating adjustments, report combinations, and reclassifications generally are not reflected in formal journal entries and might not be subject to the entity's internal controls. Accordingly, the auditor should consider placing additional emphasis on identifying and testing items processed outside of the normal course of business.