Accounting Research Guide

This guide features access to U.S. and International accounting standards.

United States Accounting Standards: Non-Governmental Entities

There are two major types of standards typically applied by accountants in the United States: accounting standards, including Generally Accepted Accounting Principles ("GAAP"), and auditing standards. Below we provide a brief overview of the institutions that create GAAP in the United States.

In addition, the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission ("SEC") publishes accounting guidance to help companies comply with the accounting requirements of the federal securities laws. The SEC also oversees the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board ("PCAOB"), a standards-making body created by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, Pub. L. 107-204, 116 Stat. 745 (2002).

Generally Accepted Accounting Principles ("GAAP"): The Accounting Standards Codification ("ASC")

GAAP are a set of accepted accounting procedures and rules used in the preparation of financial statements such as balance sheets, income statements, statements of owners' equity, and statements of cash flows. As of September 15, 2009, current GAAP for non-government entities are codified in the Accounting Standards Codification ("ASC") published by the Financial Accouting Standards Board ("FASB"). Auditing standards (as opposed to accounting standards) have not been affected by this codification. FASB is an independent private-sector organization created to establish and improve financial accounting and reporting standards.

Historic and Grandfathered Accounting Standards

A number of organizations, including but not limited to FASB, created accounting standards that have since been codified in FASB's Accounting Standards Codification. Brief profiles of those organizations and their standards are provided below. Furthermore, some pre-ASC standards have been grandfathered, at least for limited purposes. For more information on grandfathered standards, see p. 7 of FASB's About the Codification document.

I. Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB")

FASB previously issued numerous pronouncements that contributed to GAAP, including but not limited to:

  • Statements of Financial Accounting Standards
  • FASB Interpretations
  • FASB Technical Bulletins
  • FASB Staff Positions

Historic FASB standards, as well as the current Accounting Standards Codfication, are available in:

II. American Institute of Certified Public Accountants ("AICPA")

According to its own website, "The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the world’s largest member association representing the accounting profession." Its Financial Reporting Executive Committee (FinREC) (formerly Accounting Standards Executive Committee), determines the AICPA's technical policies on financial reporting standards and acts as the AICPA's voice on those policies. With an eye toward providing guidance to its members and influencing FASB and other standards-issuing bodies, AICPA's FinREC & AcSEC issued the following types of pronouncements, among others:

  • Statements of Position
  • Audit and Accounting Guides
  • Practice Bulletins (approved by FASB)

Many AICPA Accounting Standards are available from:

III. AICPA Committee on Accounting Procedure ("CAP", 1936-1959) & Accounting Principles Board ("APB", 1962-1973) (Both Defunct)

Formerly part of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Committee on Accounting Procedure and its successor, the Accounting Principles Board, issued various standards including:

  • Accounting Research Bulletins (ARBs) - 1936 to 1959 (contained recommended accounting procedures not binding on AICPA members)
  • Opinions - 1959 to 1973
  • Statements - 1962 to 1970

The APB was dissolved in 1973 and no longer creates new standards. Those APB standards in effect on July 1, 2009 have been incorporated into FASB's Accounting Standards Codification. APB standards in their uncodified form can be found in: