Accounting Reporting Complexity




We develop and evaluate a new measure of accounting reporting complexity (ARC) that is based on the count of accounting items disclosed in eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) filings. ARC is based on the idea that the preparation and audit complexity of the financial reports increases with the number of disclosed accounting concepts (XBRL tags) because of the need to collect, categorize, store, analyze, and understand more information, which requires broader and more in-depth knowledge of authoritative accounting standards. ARC is associated with lower financial reporting quality and with poor analysts' performance.  Data includes filings through October 31, 2021.


Relevant papers that use ARC:


If you decide to use the data, please consider citing one of the following papers. These papers develop, validate, and/or use ARC:


Hoitash, R.,and Hoitash, U. Measuring Accounting Reporting Complexity with XBRL. The Accounting Review, January 2018, Vol. 93, No. 1, pp. 259-287.



Can Sell-Side Analysts’ Experience, Expertise and Qualifications Help Mitigate the Adverse Effects of Accounting Reporting Complexity.  Review of Quantitative Finance and Accounting. Forthcoming.


Below we provide links to data that includes ARC and several related measures (We now include quarterly data):


ARC Data- SAS Format
Compressed archive in ZIP format [10.5 MB]



ARC Data- Excel Format
Microsoft Excel sheet [24.9 MB]



Data Dictionary
ARC Data Dictionary.docx
Microsoft Word document [18.0 KB]

XBRL and Accounting Complexity in the Media  

Accounting Today:

Professors propose new measure of accounting complexity

FEI Daily: Measuring Accounting Disclosure Complexity with XBRL

Compliance Week: As Complexity Rises, Quality Slides, XBRL-Based Study Says