Since the appearances of “extraordinary” gains and losses in the authoritative GAAP literature in 1917, the debate over how to report such items has continued for a century. Until the 1970s, the reporting of extraordinary items was widespread. During recent decades, however, the frequency of reported extraordinary items decreased sharply. Only 1.5 percent of companies reported them in 2014, followed in January 2015 by their elimination from U.S. GAAP. In this paper, we investigate factors affecting the decline in reporting of extraordinary items and reasons for their elimination from U.S. GAAP. Factors include evolving criteria for defining extraordinary items, variation in their financial statement placement, and their changing nature and size over the years. We examine several important FASB pronouncements and events that contributed to the elimination of extraordinary items, including APB Opinion No. 30 in 1973, the FASB's treatment of the losses from the World Trade Center attack in 2001, the FASB and IASB's convergence initiative, the FASB's simplification initiative, and widespread use of pro forma earnings in practice.

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