Issued: January 28, 2011
Impact: All US GAAP


In files submitted as part of the SEC XBRL filing program, we observed a number of future dates recorded in the context of the XBRL instance. Undoubtedly, some of these are simple data errors, but others are a misrepresentation of the context date. The maximum filed end date observed was “2030-07-01”. The maximum date for a period instant was “2036-11-01”. For example, a number of companies have reported a future context (rather than using the present reporting period) for the element FiniteLivedIntangibleAssetsAmortizationExpenseYearFive.

In the US GAAP taxonomy, there are a number of similar elements that refer to expected future payments, the element LongTermDebtMaturitiesRepaymentsOfPrincipalInYearFive, for example. In this case, if the required context period end is 2014-12-31, the value of the date in the context should be 2014-12-31 not 2015-12-31. This number represents the value of what the company would pay in principal repayments in five years based on debt maturities of debt held at 2010-12-31.

The context date is different than the “reported date.” The reported date is the date that a fact was actually reported, whereas the context date is the date that defines the period of time which a balance accrued or the balance at a given date.


For elements that reflect payments or receipts of existing balance sheet items in future periods, the context period should be the measurement date, which is usually the current balance sheet date.