The Securities and Exchange Commission has told Corporate America it can take its foot off the accelerator.
On Thursday, the regulator postponed by one year what would have been a new, earlier deadline for most companies to file their annual and quarterly reports. Bowing to widespread calls for a delay, the SEC said it pushed back the deadline to give companies and corporate auditors more time to comply with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which requires companies to identify and document their internal controls over financial reporting.
Under the amended rules, for an additional year the deadline for accelerated filers will remain at 75 days after year-end for annual reports and at 40 days after quarter-end for quarterly reports. Beginning with fiscal years ending on or after December 15, 2005 — which will mark the final phase of regulations designed to speed up filings — those deadlines will be trimmed to 60 days and 35 days respectively.
The SEC defines an “accelerated filer” as a company that has a public float of at least $75 million; has been subject to the SEC’s periodic reporting requirements for at least 12 months and has filed one annual report; and is not eligible to use the SEC’s small-business reporting forms.