The Selection Of A Cost Flow Assumption For Reporting Purposes

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lifo conformity rule

In response to these criticisms, Congress appointed a committee to rewrite the tax law relating to LIFO.35 The committee’s work resulted in the more general acceptance of LIFO in the 1939 Revenue Act. The quality of the 1939 Revenue Act may be judged by the fact that, except for a recent relaxation of the conformity rule, it has continued in the Internal Revenue Code without material change until the present day. When the base stock method was disallowed for tax purposes, a search for a suitable alternative began, The acceptance of LIFO by professional groups and by Congress in the Revenue Acts of 1938 and 1939 represents the final phase of the early development of LIFO.

lifo conformity rule

Later in September, Powell issued revised reports which included a balance sheet and a statement of earnings and retained earnings in LIFO. At this time, the taxpayer asked its shareholders to return the original 1973 annual report. Ultimately, seventeen of the original thirty-nine reports distributed were returned. Switching to LIFO may reduce your tax bill, but it could also depress your current earnings and reduce the value of inventories on your balance sheet, thus giving the appearance of a weaker financial position. With respect to such inventories treated a business combination for credit or financial reporting purposes in a manner different from the treatment of the business combination for Federal income tax purposes. The IRS recently examined a case where the LIFO conformity rules and IFRS standards came into conflict. This issue will become more relevant as IFRS and generally accepted accounting principles convergence becomes a reality in the next few years.

Treasury has pushed the envelope as far as it can with respect to interpreting the LIFO conformity requirement. A thoughtful reading of the LIFO conformity regulations leads to the inevitable conclusion that as a matter of tax policy, LIFO conformity exists in form only. The LIFO conformity requirement was originally something of a “put your money where your mouth is” condition. If a firm was arguing that LIFO was a best practice for income tax purposes, it certainly must be a best practice for financial reporting purposes.

Stuck With A Question?

The IRS concluded that this company violated the three LIFO conformity rules. First of all, it used an inventory method other than LIFO to calculate income.

lifo conformity rule

The rule is designed to prevent organizations from using LIFO accounting to reduce the amount of their taxable income, while using a different inventory cost flow method to derive a higher income figure in their financial statements. One of the most important features of the Revenue Act is the con-formity rule—any company using LIFO for taxes must also use LIFO for financial reports. A company may use accelerated depreciation for tax purposes and at the same time use straight-line depreciation for its financial reports.


The taxpayer shall file an application to use such method specifying with particularity the goods to which it is to be applied. BDO USA LLP reported revenue of $2,000,300,000 for the fiscal year ending April 30, 2021, a year-over-year increase of 10.9%. The key to more useful information about inventory is getting Congress out of the accounting standard-setting arena. A realized holding gain or loss for the difference between the FIFO and LIFO cost of goods sold .

lifo conformity rule

Any method relating to the classification of an item as inventory or a capital asset. Accounting Today is a leading provider of online business news for the accounting community, offering breaking news, in-depth features, and a host of resources what are retained earnings and services. The Big Four firm issued its 2021 audit quality report Monday, pointing to progress on auditor independence, along with issues such as diversity and inclusion. Obviously, the early proponents of LIFO did not envision a LIFO-Retail.

But a company cannot use a non-LIFO method of reporting on financial statements and use LIFO for taxes. Another condition is that the inventory should be of a homogeneous nature. They guarantee the materiality of the difference between LIFO and FIFO. Surprisingly, the report does not distinguish between the conditions which guarantee the materiality of the difference between LIFO and FIFO, and conditions for which LIFO was considered appropriate. The report lists, for instance, the requirement that inventories be a significant percentage of assets. Obviously, if inventory is insignificant, the inventory valuation method is immaterial. A company with higher reported profits has to pay more taxes than a company with lower reported profits.

It generally requires you to use the same inventory accounting method for tax and financial statement purposes. Switching to LIFO may reduce your tax bill, but it will also depress your earnings and reduce the value of inventories on your balance sheet, which may place you at a disadvantage in comparison to competitors that don’t use LIFO. There are various issues to address and forms to complete, so be fully informed and consult your tax advisor before making a switch.

What Does Lifo Conformity Mean?

Early in 1981, the Internal Revenue Service liberalized the conformity rule in general. The first two areas of Certified Public Accountant conflict with the conformity rule stemmed from Opinion 16 and Opinion 20 of the Accounting Principles Board.

The taxpayer’s use of an inventory method other than LIFO for purposes of ascertaining information reported as a supplement to or explanation of the taxpayer’s primary presentation of the taxpayer’s income, profit, or loss for a taxable year in credit statements or financial reports . See paragraph of this section for rules relating to the reporting of supplemental and explanatory information ascertained by the use of an inventory method other than LIFO. In 1981, the Internal Revenue Service substantially modified the conformity rule.71 The new rule has a number of important features. One, supplementary disclosure of income is permissible on any basis, as long as LIFO income is the primary income presentation.72 Two, in valuing the asset inventory on the balance sheet any method may be used. Three, even primary income may be reported using any method if the income report is to be used for internal management reports or for interim statements. Four, lower of LIFO cost or market may be used in calculating even primary LIFO income. If you currently use FIFO and are contemplating a switch to LIFO, beware of the IRS’s what are retained earnings.

  • For example, one commentator argues that Congress should just go ahead and prohibit LIFO for tax returns now because it’s only a matter of time before convergence eliminates its acceptability for financial reporting.
  • The company did not know in 1971 that the Internal Revenue Service would allow footnote disclosure.
  • The use of an accounting period other than the period used for Federal income tax purposes.
  • The inflation percentage for synthetic rubber products in 2010 was 13%.

GAAP with iGAAP has made a great deal of progress to date, there are still many issues yet to be addressed, including the fate of the LIFO method. For over a decade, FASB and the IASB have had an ongoing agenda of projects, the objective of which is to move the process of convergence forward. For the period 2006– 2008, numerous convergence-related issues were identified as either being on an active agenda or on a research lifo conformity rule agenda prior to being added to an active agenda. However, the issues of LIFO and inventory valuation in general are not included on the active or the research agenda of either board. One of the biggest challenges in using LIFO is the need to measure changes in inventory costs. If you currently use LIFO, you may be able to enjoy additional savings by electing to use the inventory price index computation method.


LIFO is a method to defer taxes until the “beginning” inventory is sold . If this event occurs, the lower cost of goods will result in higher income and correspondingly higher income taxes. In other words, the taxes deferred during earlier times will now become payable, assuming there have been no changes in tax law/rates. There are four financial reports that make up a group known as the financial statements. We will take a walk with one of those reports – the balance sheet – and learn what it is, what items are included on it and what its role in the group is. Because the International Accounting Standards Board doesn’t allow LIFO to be used, one might think LIFO would fade away if the U.S. were to adopt international standards.

Since the Internal Revenue Service never allowed the base stock method for income tax calculation, the company had to keep two sets of books. Between the years 1913 and 1920, the market price per pound of pig lead, National Lead Company’s raw material, moved up from 3.4 cents to about 12 cents and back down to 4.75 cents. In its 1925 annual report, the company discloses that each one cent a pound change in the market price of lead would affect profit by $2 million. Since the company did not show any profits on the rise in the value of the inventories, it did not have to write down the inventories when prices fell.

The Potential Consequences Of The Elimination Of Lifo As A Part Of Ifrs Convergence

These states have their own unique set of laws although they often resemble the tax laws applied by the federal government. Recognize that three cost flow assumptions are particularly popular in the United States. The conformity requirement is embodied in 26 U.S.C. § 472 and , but only subsection is relevant to our consideration. LIFO requires significant record keeping and careful management of purchases.

In that year Congress made the first move to allow LIFO for tax purposes. Specifically, Congress allowed the use of LIFO for certain raw materials of tanners and brass smelters and refiners. Once the base stock is valued, the problem remains of valuing the difference between ending inventory and base stock inventory. If the quantity of ending inventory is greater than base stock, the excess is valued by using any conventional cost method.

For example, taxpayers who encounter high medical costs or casualty losses are entitled to a tax break. Donations conveyed to an approved charity can also reduce a taxpayer’s tax bill.

In this lesson, you will learn how to record notes receivable on the balance sheet. Moreover, if a C corporation elects S corporation status, the business must include a “LIFO recapture amount” in income for the C corporation’s last tax year. The recapture amount is the excess of your inventory’s value using FIFO over its value using LIFO. The use of inventory costs unreduced by any adjustment required by the application of section 108 and section 1017, relating to discharge of indebtedness.

For another, financial reporting considerations simply must not impact an assessment of whether permitting or eliminating LIFO is good tax policy. One of the biggest challenges in using it is the need to measure changes in inventory costs. If you currently use this method, you may be able to enjoy additional savings by electing to use the inventory price index computation method.

Due to increased international presence of midsize manufacturers, International Financial Reporting Standards is now adding complexity to this rule. The goal of IFRS is to have a global common method of maintaining books and records so that the financial statements in each country are comparable and understandable. LIFO is not an accepted way of reporting inventory under these standards. This could cause LIFO conformity issues if a U.S. company is part of a larger consolidated group with various foreign entities in countries that have adopted IFRS. Assuming your inventory costs generally increase over time, LIFO offers a definite tax advantage over other inventory reporting methods. By allocating the most recent — and, therefore, higher — costs first, It maximizes your cost of goods sold, which minimizes your taxable income. The companies in these industries sold goods from their LIFO stock which had been acquired earlier at very low prices.

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