You have just been told by your Company Secretary that your company has to file its Annual Return in XBRL format. What are the options that are available to you?

Well there are a few options:

1. Easiest option: Outsource the whole job to many of the people who are willing to do it for a fee. Here you send your audited balance sheet in a pdf form, the service provider converts it into xbrl format and sends it back to you.  The converted xbrl format document has to be audited and certified by the statutory auditor, and then you can file it with the Registrar of Companies. Obviously this requires not knowledge of accountancy, law or xbrl! This is a good option for companies with just one or two filings and has a price range from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 600,000 depending upon the complexity of the balance sheet.

2. Excel Format Option: There are service providers who provide a tool which looks like excel. Here you enter the data yourself (you should know some basic accounting) and the file is then uploaded on to the Registrar of Companies. This is not a difficult option at all. In fact it is very simple, but only an accountant will be able to do it. Here you need to know accountancy but need not know any xbrl.

3. Buy an xbrl conversion tool: Some tools are available in the market which will convert word, pdf and excel sheets into xbrl format. This tool looks inexpensive – especially if you see the conversion option. This is a good option for companies with more than 4-5 companies. However it is important to realise that buying the tool is not sufficient. One person will have to be designated for doing this work. The CA institute has estimated that it will take 90 hours to convert a company from a pdf format to an xbrl format. Also it will take about 90 hours to convert a pdf statement to xbrl. Thus this option should be considered carefully.

The break even especially for such a product is difficult to estimate, but 5 years or 5 companies is a good estimate!

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