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iXBRL/XBRL Accounts

iXBRL/XBRL Accounts

The majority of statutory accounts that get filed with HMRC start life as word documents (or excel), whilst the majority of software houses will (no doubt) write their CT programmes to be compatible (and presumably their accounts packages) where does that leave the practices that do not need the accounts packages because the accounts are in Word (Excel) or are produced in house by clients.

Can anyone out there suggest a 'converter' (Word/Excel to iXBRL/XBRL - or do any of the software houses out there want to put on the table that they in the process of developing a converter to support their CT packages. Whilst I accept that we are 18 moths (well a bit more) away from March 2011, I don't want to be worrying about it then or even in 12 months time - but I expect I will.

Can anyone explain what is involved with a converter programme and I can decide how much of a problem this is or is not?

HMRC have just started their campaign to 'make it known' with a mail shot today (add to that some comments in the IT press and tax/accounting websites publications).

Planning in advance.




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23rd Aug 2009 18:30

xbrl vs. pdf
A completely automated piece of software that could take any spreadsheet or word document and convert it to xbrl is unlikely.

XBRL essentially performs two roles - it is designed to be both human readable and computer readable. A pdf on the other hand, although it may be stored on a computer it is not designed to be understood by a computer.

If you are sending in a CT600 with accounts attached as a pdf to verify that figure for "turnover" in box 1 of the CT600 matches the turnover shown on the accounts requires a human operator to visually inspect the pdf.

With XBRL, software can perform this (and many other checks).

To produce XBRL from a spreadsheet would need two things

1. for the spreadsheet to marked up to identify the figures that are needed to be extracted. This could be done through naming the cells in some way, or have links through to a separate sheet labelling the data. This would be preferable to anything interactive which would become tedious if you had several to do.

2. A program to take the visual aspects of spreadsheet and combine it with the labelled data and produce valid XBRL.

From a technical point of view neither is particualrly challenging for us, but we have been producing XBRL accounts and CT comps since 2005. If there is sufficient interest we could make some examples available, but from our own experiance a proper accounting package that produces the xbrl directly is preferable.

David Forbes

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24th Aug 2009 17:26

Dave - thanks for the response - whilst it seems likely that a bespoke package may well be the preferred solution, I suspect that there are significant number of entities out there do not want to go through the expense of such a bespoke solution given the size and scale of operations (but not small enough to use the HMRC package). They already pay an agent to use bespoke CT software to file the CT600 therefore.....?

I can well see the conversion question falling on agents to take word (or exel) labelling and providing an XBRL file to submit with a pdf of the accounts.

Rather than labelling an existing file is there any chance that HMRC will provide a XBRL disclosure list that agents can complete (I assume a little like their online package for smaller companies) so that this fulfills the requirement and lets HMRC complete their data-mining.

With bespoke CT packages around, I can well see this as being a preferable solution rather than labelling etc and increasing the red tape (and COST) for SMEs with no upside.

Any thoughts from HMRC or software poviders as doable?


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26th Aug 2009 12:17

sending a pdf and xbrl data separately
Allowing the sending a pdf and xbrl data separately was a suggestion I made to the HMRC about a year ago.
It was rejected by the HMRC as they could not ensure that the data provided in the pdf was the same as in the data extract.
Also, the HMRC supporting multiple filing routes would increase the costs to the HMRC and ultimately the tax payer.
With iXBRL the presentation data and the tagging are in the same file and linked.

As well as providing software to do xbrl tagging, we are very likely to be providing this as a service - you send us a .pdf and we send you
back an ixbrl file.


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28th Aug 2009 10:03

Try VT Software
VT Software is working on a solution to this problem. I do not know when they will have the software available but you can track details on their support website at http://www.vtsoftware.co.uk/support/on-linefiling.htm

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02nd Sep 2009 07:43

Manually marking up an excel spreadsheet

I thought the enquiry was about automatically generating the xbrl. If you are talking about manually going through the document (be it excel or a word document) and clicking on each figure and labelling it with the appropriate XBRL tag, then yes, it is possible to produce inline xbrl from pretty much any document. However with several hundred items to label in a typical set of accounts and several thousand items in the taxonomy to choose from, this will be a labour intensive task.

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By metcalr
01st Oct 2009 21:52

xBRL converter
Hi Mike,
At my company we are in the middle of developing said functionality. In fact I have just been in London today meeting KPMG to get their latest take on this. It seems that the iXBRL is destined to cause a few ripples. But not for us! iXBRL is just a flavour of xhtml, which we know very well. The technology we use is in at over 200 customer sites in Scandinavia so is robust enough for this requirement.
I'd be interested to discuss with you further; you can mail me at [email protected]

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By metcalr
02nd Oct 2009 14:48

Responses to XBRL..

thanks for your personal responses to my posting last night (from the number of responses in under 24 hours I'm getting a good idea of how tricky this seems at the outset).

Our approach is that we will ask you to do something, and that is send us your accounts in Excel. We will however ask you to reformat this excel into our format, but once done this is the solution going forward.
This will enable you to plug into our platform. I do agree that to approach each and every transformation into iXBRL is labour intensive and frankly a waste of time. I'd be pleased to discuss individual requirements as you have them. Our technique really gets you ROI if you file more than 1 set of accounts, or our pay as youi go service helps out the individual. And because we are software architects are able to make your approach scalable and future proof using service orientated architecture (SOA) best practices.

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By metcalr
20th Oct 2009 13:48
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By metcalr
23rd Oct 2009 22:46

iXBRL by email

Seems like the consensus from the contacts I've had so far is that there'd be a lot of interest in a service that does the mapping into iXBRL via email from excel in a low cost way? We are also discussing with vendors how we can install our component in their software as a plug in to do this.

[A couple of subsequent posts from metcalr have been removed for voilating our terms & conditions for being blatantly self-promotional. We appreciate your contributions, but if you'd like to advertise your products, please get in touch with [email protected] - Ed]

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By metcalr
08th Jan 2010 19:25

Happy New Year from arkk solutions

Hi All,

remember in 2010 to keep up to date with the latest developments in iXBRL at http://www.arkksolutions.com/ixbrl.html .  The last 6 months has seen us work on some great iXBRL projects for clients,  and we're building up a great UK based knowledge base, especially around the Excel conversions.

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By dwatson
29th Jun 2010 17:59

iXBRL Tagging and Auditability

To some extent the debate around the complexities involved in tagging financial statements in iXBRL compliant format is only part of the equation. The focus for many firms is 'getting past the post' next year rather than looking at the bigger picture in terms of what might be coming downstream later.

If you look at the US filings with the SEC they took the informed step of having a trial period before it was mandated, though this did result in a US IFRS Taxonomy of some 17,000 lines. If you look at the UK HMRC requirements they are requiring a minimum level of tagging at this stage (some 2-4,000 lines) which we think will only grow in coming years.

Consequently any company looking to select an iXBRL solution needs to see past the tagging engine and think more about the process that wraps around it. The effort involved in tagging can be somewhat onerous however the effort in correcting inappropriately tagged financial statements could be much worse. You therefore also need to consider the in-built validation checking and exception reporting capabilities that the product chosen provides.

My firm is an award winning Oracle Hyperion Platinum Partner and we can provide a Microsoft Office based solution utilising UBmatrix technology. It facilitates tagging of accounts in Excel with supporting footnotes from Word and ensures complete auditability and traceability of the tagged instance documents prior to filing. The solution is available on a subscription basis, a term license or a perpetual license basis.

For more information, please contact us through our website on www.concentricsolutions.co.uk or on +44(0)1795 892 058.

David Watson


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02nd Jul 2010 12:47

This remains a very hot issue

I went along to HMRC's Corporation Tax iXBRL solutions event at Chelsea FC on Wednesday and it was apparent that a lot of companies have been caught on the hop by the new efiling requirements. For those who won't be able to reconfigure their internal systems in time for their first post-April CT return, either using a tagging system such as Arkk's or CoreFiling's Seahorse, or outsourcing it to someone like Data Tracks, Thomson Reuters, LexisNexis or their accountants should enable them to beat the deadline.

But BTC's Rob Ellis warned companies to beware of tagging. “Once you go back to the point where you can generate iXBRL final accounts, the big headache goes away. There are a lot of products that will do that, including VT Accounts [the main final accounts program to which BTC’s system connects]."

AccountingWEB has been tracking the different solutions to the CT iXBRL tagging problem for more than a year now. Have a look at What you need to know about iXBRL and all our other iXBRL coverage.

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04th Nov 2010 14:01

iXBRL/XBRL Accounts

Can anyone tell me that who decided that the above format for filing was the best.


Prior to the above being discussed I did not hear of one firm of accountants who used the above format, the majority of firms or clients filed their accounts using either word excel or PDF.


HMRC have apparently gone with the majority, I would like to know what majority it's just another way of increasing costs to small firms of accountants and their clients nothing else, why change a filing format that has been in palce for years and years.



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04th Aug 2011 09:48


Hi leslieatmis - Here is something I picked up on an XBRL website on the potential uses of XBRL. Although it does not directly benefit accounting firms, the article claims that overall it benefits companies. On the whole it looks like it might be a good idea, but it should have been implemented in a phased manner.  "With full adoption of XBRL, companies can automate data collection. For example, data from different company divisions with different accounting systems can be assembled quickly, cheaply and efficiently.  Once data is gathered in XBRL, different types of reports using varying subsets of the data can be produced with minimum effort.  A company finance division, for example, could quickly and reliably generate internal management reports, financial statements for publication, tax and other regulatory filings, as well as credit reports for lenders.  Not only can data handling be automated, removing time-consuming, error-prone processes, but the data can be checked by software for accuracy."

Most accounting software does not output iXBRL so effort & expense is required to meet this new HMRC requirement. This effort can be minimised by using one of the managed tagging service providers listed on the HMRC website at http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/efiling/ctsoft_dev.htm . If you don't want to make any changes to your current processes DataTracks' ixbrl tagging services usually provides the best price / quality blend for straight tagging. If you need a full service accounting firm Deloitte's filing services can help streamline your end to end filing process. Deloitte has a lot of experience helping US firms with their XBRL SEC filings.

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03rd Feb 2014 16:54


You should try www.XBRLConverter.com - they take the complexity out of the issue. You simply submit your Excel, Word or PDF documents and you receive the iXBRL / XBRL documents which you can then file.

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