International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) is a set of accounting standards developed by an independent, not-for-profit organization called the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB).
The goal of IFRS is to provide a global framework for how public companies prepare and disclose their financial statements. IFRS provides general guidance for the preparation of financial statements, rather than setting rules for industry-specific reporting.
Having an international standard is especially important for large companies that have subsidiaries in different countries. Adopting a single set of world-wide standards will simplify accounting procedures by allowing a company to use one reporting language throughout. A single standard will also provide investors and auditors with a cohesive view of finances.
Currently, over 100 countries permit or require IFRS for public companies, with more countries expected to transition to IFRS by 2015. Proponents of IFRS as an international standard maintain that the cost of implementing IFRS could be offset by the potential for compliance to improve credit ratings.
IFRS is sometimes confused with IAS (International Accounting Standards), which are older standards that IFRS has replaced.