What Are Accounting Series Releases?

Accounting Series Releases (ASRs) are official accounting pronouncements published by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). ASRs provide accountants with accounting and auditing procedures to follow in reports filed with the SEC. ASRs include guidelines and rules on the various facets of corporate accounting, such as auditing policies, disclosure mandates and filing statements for publicly traded companies.

Understanding Accounting Series Releases (ASRs)

Accounting Series Releases (ASRs) are issued by the SEC as a means to help continually refine accounting requirements and principles in response to financial reporting issues. The first Accounting Series Release was published on April 1, 1937. The SEC issued this first release in response to disparate and vague concepts prevalent among practicing accountants at that time. As a result of the ambiguity of the financial data then being reported by publicly traded companies to regulators and the investing public, the SEC sought to issue guidance on what should be considered, and what it as a regulator would deem, as sound accounting practice.

Accounting Series Releases in Practice

The SEC has issued hundreds of Accounting Series Releases since ASR Number 1 was published in 1937. Topics addressed in different ASRs run the gamut of the accounting practice, and include such things as deferred taxes (ASR Numbers 85 and 86), the SEC's preference for an "all-inclusive" income statement over one dealing with only current income (ASR Number 70) and the accounting of employee stock options (ASR Number 76). As a specific example, ASR 280 addresses the SEC's guidelines on accounting for the income or loss applicable to common stock. In this ASR, the SEC indicates that "income or loss applicable to common stock should be reported on the face of the income statement when it is materially different ... from reported net income or loss or ... indicative of significant trends or other qualitative considerations."

Along with being published in the SEC Docket, recent Accounting Series Releases may be posted on the SEC's website. ASRs are published along with Auditing Enforcement Releases (AAERs) in the SEC Docket. Accounting Series Releases were codified as Financial Reporting Releases (FRRs) starting in 1982.