ABSTRACT

The purpose of this paper is to trace the historical development of the standard audit report (SAR) in the United States from its emergence in the 19th century to its current version, and examine how the SAR came full circle to once again include attention to the risk of fraud. While prior research has addressed some of this history, this paper completes the picture to the present date. In the last 100+ years, the SAR has changed from a “certificate” to an “opinion.” The scope of the audit has shifted from being an “examination” to the lesser responsibility of an “audit.” The emphasis has shifted from absolute assurance to reasonable assurance. Over time, the relative responsibilities of management and auditors have been clarified in the report. Most importantly, the basis for opinion has now moved back to include an assessment of material misstatements caused by error and fraud.

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