Notes to financial statements (notes) are additional information added to the end of financial statements. Notes to financial statements help explain specific items in the financial statements as well as provide a more comprehensive assessment of a company's financial condition. Notes to financial statements can include information on debt, going concern criteria, accounts, contingent liabilities or contextual information explaining the financial numbers (e.g. to indicate a lawsuit).
The notes clarify individual statement line-items. For example, if a company lists a loss on a fixed asset impairment line in their income statement, notes could corroborate the reason for the impairment by describing how the asset became impaired. Notes are also used to explain the accounting methods used to prepare the statements and they support valuations for how particular accounts have been computed.
In consolidated financial statements, all subsidiaries are listed as well as the amount of ownership (controlling interest) that the parent company has in the subsidiaries. Any items within the financial statements that are valuated by estimation are part of the notes if a substantial difference exists between the amount of the estimate previously reported and the actual result. Full disclosure of the effects of the differences between the estimate and actual results should be included.