There are some basic guidelines regarding what should be included in audit workpapers. First, the workpapers should show that the work was adequately planned, supervised, and reviewed. This shows that the first standard of fieldwork was followed. Second, the workpapers need to show that the internal accounting control system was studied and evaluated as a basis for relying on it, and also for deciding on the extent of tests to which auditing procedures were to be restricted. This indicates that the second standard of fieldwork was followed. Third, the workpapers must include any audit evidence gathered, the auditing procedures that were followed, and that the testing that was done provided sufficient competent evidence to afford a reasonable basis for an opinion. This shows that the third standard of field work was followed.
Two types of working paper files are normally kept by auditors. The first is the permanent or continuing audit file, and the second is the current-year audit file. The permanent file contains documents, schedules, and other information that will be helpful for and significant to several years of audits. One example of a document that would be in the permanent file is a copy of the client’s articles of incorporation. This way the auditor will not need to request a copy each year. The current-year audit file would contain all of the evidence accumulated during the audit for that year. An example of a document that would be kept in the current-year file is a bank confirmation of a balance for the audit period.
The documents gathered for each year’s audits normally include an audit trial balance, lead schedules, and detail audit schedules. The audit trial balance is similar to the financial statements, but has additional columns for adjustments and reclassifications that are suggested as a result of the audit. The proposed entries for adjustments and reclassifications must be agreed to by the client, or they will not be made. This is because the financial statements are the responsibility of the client.
Each workpaper schedule has a heading containing the client’s name, a description of the information in the schedule, and the audit date. Every schedule is indexed in a systematic manner. Each workpaper schedule is also signed and dated by the auditor that completed the work. Tick marks are used to indicate that an amount has been traced to the general ledger.
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