What are 'Generally Accepted Auditing Standards - GAAS'

Generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS) are a set of systematic guidelines used by auditors when conducting audits on companies' finances, ensuring the accuracy, consistency and verifiability of auditors' actions and reports. The Auditing Standards Board (ASB) of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) created GAAS.

BREAKING DOWN 'Generally Accepted Auditing Standards - GAAS'

Generally accepted auditing standards (GAAS) comprises a list of 10 standards, divided into the following three sections:

A. General Standards

  1. The auditor must have adequate technical training and proficiency to perform the audit.
  2. The auditor must maintain independence in mental attitude in all matters relating to the audit.
  3. The auditor must exercise professional care in the performance of the audit and the preparation of the report.

B. Standards of Field Work

  1. The auditor must adequately plan the work and must properly supervise any assistants.
  2. The auditor must obtain a sufficient understanding of the entity and its environment, including its internal control, to assess the risk of material misstatement of the financial statements whether due to error or fraud, and to design the nature, timing, and extent of further audit procedures.
  3. The auditor must obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence by performing audit procedures to afford a reasonable basis for an opinion regarding the financial statements under audit.

C. Standards of Reporting

  1. The auditor must state in the auditor's report whether the financial statements are presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles.
  2. The auditor must identify in the auditor's report those circumstances in which such principles have not been consistently observed in the current period in relation to the preceding period.
  3. When the auditor determines that informative disclosures are not reasonably adequate, the auditor must so state in the auditor's report.
  4. The auditor must either express an opinion regarding the financial statements, taken as a whole, or state that an opinion cannot be expressed, in the auditor's report. When the auditor cannot express an overall opinion, the auditor should state the reasons therefore in the auditor's report. In all cases where an auditor's name is associated with financial statements, the auditor should clearly indicate the character of the auditor's work, if any, and the degree of responsibility the auditor is taking, in the auditor's report.
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