Scope of this Auditing Standard
This Auditing Standard deals with the auditor’s responsibility to apply the concept of materiality in planning and performing an audit of a financial report. ASA 450  explains how materiality is applied in evaluating the effect of identified misstatements on the audit and of uncorrected misstatements, if any, on the financial report.
Materiality in the Context of an Audit
Financial reporting frameworks often discuss the concept of materiality in the context of the preparation and presentation of a financial report. Although financial reporting frameworks may discuss materiality in different terms, they generally explain that:
- Misstatements, including omissions, are considered to be material if they, individually or in the aggregate, could reasonably be expected to influence the economic decisions of users taken on the basis of the financial report;
- Judgements about materiality are made in light of surrounding circumstances, and are affected by the size or nature of a misstatement, or a combination of both; and
- Judgements about matters that are material to users of the financial report are based on a consideration of the common financial information needs of users as a group. The possible effect of misstatements on specific individual users, whose needs may vary widely, is not considered.
Such a discussion, if present in the applicable financial reporting framework, provides a frame of reference to the auditor in determining materiality for the audit. If the applicable financial reporting framework does not include a discussion of the concept of materiality, the characteristics referred to in paragraph 2 of this Auditing Standard provide the auditor with such a frame of reference.
The auditor’s determination of materiality is a matter of professional judgement, and is affected by the auditor’s perception of the financial information needs of users of the financial report. In this context, it is reasonable for the auditor to assume that users:
- Have a reasonable knowledge of business and economic activities and accounting and a willingness to study the information in the financial report with reasonable diligence;
- Understand that the financial report is prepared, presented and audited to levels of materiality;
- Recognise the uncertainties inherent in the measurement of amounts based on the use of estimates, judgement and the consideration of future events; and
- Make reasonable economic decisions on the basis of the information in the financial report.
The concept of materiality is applied by the auditor both in planning and performing the audit, and in evaluating the effect of identified misstatements on the audit and of uncorrected misstatements, if any, on the financial report and in forming the opinion in the auditor’s report. (Ref: Para. A1)
In planning the audit, the auditor makes judgements about misstatements that will be considered material. These judgements provide a basis for:
- Determining the nature, timing and extent of risk assessment procedures;
- Identifying and assessing the risks of material misstatement;  and
- Determining the nature, timing and extent of further audit procedures.
The materiality determined when planning the audit does not necessarily establish an amount below which uncorrected misstatements, individually or in the aggregate, will always be evaluated as immaterial. The circumstances related to some misstatements may cause the auditor to evaluate them as material even if they are below materiality. It is not practicable to design audit procedures to detect all misstatements that could be material solely because of their nature. However, consideration of the nature of potential misstatements in disclosures is relevant to the design of audit procedures to address risks of material misstatement. In addition, when evaluating the effect on the financial report of all uncorrected misstatements, the auditor considers not only the size but also the nature of uncorrected misstatements, and the particular circumstances of their occurrence. (Ref: Para. A2)
See, for example, the AASB’s Framework for the Preparation and Presentation of Financial Statements (July 2004).