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iXBRL Questions and Answers

How do I generate an iXBRL file?

What file format is used by iXBRL files?
iXBRL files are written in HTML, the language used by web pages. An iXBRL file can be displayed in your web browser by double clicking on it.

In addition, XBRL tags are buried within the HTML but are not visible in a standard web browser. These tags can only be seen in specialist software such as VT Fact Viewer or Corefiling’s Magnify (Corefiling are HMRC’s consultants). An iXBRL file can be opened in VT Fact Viewer by right clicking on it and choosing Open With VT Fact Viewer from the pop-up menu (or by choosing the Open command from within VT Fact Viewer itself).

HMRC's computers only see the tagged items that are shown with a yellow background in VT Fact Viewer. However, if your accounts or tax computation are ever reviewed by a human being at HMRC, they will see all the text that you normally expect to see in a set of accounts or computation (as shown on the Document tab of VT Fact Viewer or in a web browser).

Do I have to tag customisations to the VT templates?
See VT's tagging guide

How do I tag customisations or DIY accounts in Excel?
See VT's tagging guide

What do I do with an iXBRL accounts file?
An iXBRL accounts file can be attached to most third party corporation tax packages in a similar manner to a pdf file. An iXBRL accounts file can also be attached to the HMRC filing tool. More info on the HMRC filing tool and other tax packages...

Can I generate an iXBRL tax computation file using VT?
Yes. Since the June 2011 edition, the company workbooks have contained a simple tax computation. The tax computation consists of three sheets (TaxCompData, TaxComp and CapAllow) that appear towards the end of the workbook.

A tax comp iXBRL file is generated separately to the accounts iXBRL file by clicking on the Generate iXBRL File button and choosing the Tax Computation option. The tax computation is normally prepared in the same workbook as the accounts. However, this does not have to be the case because the iXBRL files are two separate files.

Most corporation tax filing packages already include a corporation tax computation but you may find it more convenient to use the one in VT. This is particularly true for the HMRC filing tool. You will need to attach two files to your tax package if you use VT's tax comp (the accounts iXBRL file and the tax comp iXBRL file).

You can also tag your own corporation tax computation in Excel using the Set Tag (Easy) and Set Tag (Comprehensive) buttons, provided you have the June 2011 issue 1 edition or later installed.

I'm having problems attaching an iXBRL accounts file to my Corporation Tax package
See the support topic on this.

How fast is it to use the HMRC filing tool?
It is a bit of a fiddle adjusting the security settings in Adobe Reader, but that is a one-off exercise and HMRC's instructions are very good. If you use the tool to import both the iXBRL accounts and tax computation files then it is reasonably fast to use. Tip: in the filing tool you need to say no to the questions Do you want to use the accounts service and Do you want to use the computations service. You can then attach the iXBRL files generated by VT.

What about filing accounts with Companies House?
Since the March 2013 edition, the VT Accounts download has included VT Filer, a small application that files iXBRL accounts files with Companies House. You can also file accounts on paper indefinitely with Companies House.

Why is the detailed profit and loss account not tagged?
Under the minimum tagging rules there is no requirement to tag the detailed profit and loss account. See also The conundrum of the detailed profit and loss account

When I review my iXBRL file in VT Fact Viewer, some of the cells I was expecting to be tagged are not. Why is this?
See the support topic...

I have customised my workbook. Do I need to tag my changes?
Customisations do not currently need to be tagged. See the tagging guide.

Can VT Final Accounts produce an iXBRL file that is not valid?
VT Final Accounts is designed so that it can only produce technically valid iXBRL. VT will always either give you an error message or produce a valid file. This does not mean to say that the tags are the correct ones, just that they will get past HMRC's computers.

What do HMRC do with the iXBRL file?
VT understands (but cannot be sure) that the tagged data is automatically analysed and the accounts given a risk assessment score. This is used to create a pool of cases that may then be investigated further. It hard to know how many of the potential 100,000 usable tag combinations in the full UK GAAP taxonomy are looked at by the risk analysis program, but VT's guess is that it is under 1,000.

What do Companies House do with the tagged data?
Companies House use a small handful of tags to check some mandatory wording and the presence of signatures and audit reports. The iXBRL file is then be turned into an image file without any tags for access by the public.

Minimum tagging
Minimum tagging is a reduced version of the full list of tags. It was introduced to make tagging the accounts easier in the first two years of iXBRL to March 2013. However, HMRC have extended the period for which minimum tagging can be used indefinitely.