Posted by Carmen Garcia

Changes in Accounting Periods and Accounting Methods

Changes in Accounting Periods and Accounting Methods

What is an Accounting Method?

An accounting method refers to the rules that a business follows when reporting income and expenses. The two main accounting methods are accrual accounting and cash accounting.

Cash accounting records expenses and income as they are received and paid; accrual accounting reports them as acquired and maintained. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) require accrual (or accrual) accounting.

Key Points to Note

  • Accrual accounting records income and expenses as they arise. Generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) require accrual (or accrual) accounting.

  • An accounting policy includes the rules and procedures that a business follows to report its revenues and costs.

  • Cash accounting records expenses and income as they are received and paid.

  • Once a business chooses an accounting method, it must follow that method according to the IRS rules and seek approval if it wishes to change its accounting method.

  • The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires accrual accounting for businesses with an average turnover of at least $ 25 million over the past three years.

  • The two major accounting methods are accrual accounting and cash accounting.

Understanding an Accounting Method

All businesses must keep records. Public enterprises are obliged to do this. Accounting allows a business to control all of its financial aspects, from revenue to costs, taxes, and more. Without proper accounting, a business would not know where it stood financially, which would likely lead to bankruptcy.

Accounting is also required to pay specific taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If the IRS ever performs an audit of a business, it will examine its business records and accounting policies. Also, the IRS requires taxpayers to choose an accounting policy that accurately reflects their income, and that is consistent in their choice of accounting policy from year to year.

Indeed, switching from one method to another would allow a business to manipulate income to minimize its tax burden. As such, Internal Revenue approval is required to change the method. Businesses can use a hybrid of the two methods allowed by IRS rules to meet the specified requirements.

Types of accounting methods:

Cash accounting

Cash accounting is a relatively simple method of accounting commonly used by small businesses. In cash accounting, transactions are only recorded when money is spent or received.

In cash accounting, a sale is recorded upon receipt of payment, and an expense is recorded only upon payment of an invoice. The cash method of accounting is, of course, the method most people use to manage their finances and is suitable for businesses of a certain size.

However, if a business generates more than $ 25 million in average annual gross revenue over the past three years, it must use the accrual accounting method, according to IRS rules.

Accrual Accounting

Accruals are based on the principle of reconciliation, which is to make the moment of recognition of income and costs coincide. When comparing income to expenses, the accumulation method gives a more accurate picture of a business's actual financial position.

On an accrual basis, transactions are recorded when they have taken place and not when they are pending payment. This means that a purchase order is recorded as income, even if the funds are not received immediately. The same is true for expenses, as they are recorded even if no payment has been made.

Example of Accounting Method

The value of accrual accounting is becoming more evident for large, complex companies. For example, a construction company may undertake a long-term project and does not receive full cash payment until it is completed.

According to the cash accounting rules, the business would incur many expenses but would not recognize the income until the customer received the money. Therefore, the company register would appear weak until the actual emergence of income. If this business seeks debt financing from a bank, the cash method of accounting seems like a bad bet because you incur expenses but not income.

Under accrual accounting, the construction company would recognize a percentage of income and expenditure for the part of the project that has been completed. This is called the complete percentage method. However, the actual amount of money going into the business would be evident in the cash flow statement. This method would give a potential creditor a much more complete and accurate picture of the company's income stream.

Adoption, Election, Modification, and Revocation

In general, you can choose to adopt any allowed accounting period when you submit your first tax return. Typically, it is not necessary to obtain IRS approval to choose the initial accounting period. However, you should generally use the same posting period in the future.

In general, you can choose to adopt any permitted accounting method when you submit your first tax return. You don't need to get IRS approval to choose your original accounting method. However, you should use the method consistently from year to year, reflecting your income.

In general, to change your accounting method, you must obtain the IRS commissioner's consent, which is usually done by filling the Form 3115. The commissioner is empowered to guide administrative procedures that set the limits, terms, and conditions as the commissioner considers necessary to obtain such consent. Thus, some consent for the change is automatically given.

Changes in Accounting Periods and Accounting Methods:

Accounting Periods

Before using the new period for income tax purposes, the taxpayer who changes his accounting period must comply with the tax law provisions on accounting period changes. In cases where regulations require the taxpayer to obtain the commissioner's consent for the change, the request for leave to change the accounting period will be filed on Form 1128 and sent to the Federal Commissioner of Revenue; during the reporting period, the time limit prescribed in these regulations. If the commissioner approves the amendment, the taxpayer must make the declarations and calculate his net income based on the new accounting year. 

The Income Tax Division will examine the request for authorization to change the accounting period. However, in some cases, Form 1128 can be sent to the Federal Director of Revenue, where the taxpayer files their return. 

Accounting Methods 

According to this methodology, the taxpayer who changes his/her accounting method before calculating his/her income must comply with the provisions of the legislation on income tax on the accounting method change. In the usual case, the law provides that the taxpayer obtains the commissioner's consent to change. 

The request for authorization to change the accounting policy used will be submitted on Form 3115. It will be sent to the Internal Revenue Commissioner, in which the change is to be made in the fiscal year. Authorization to change the accounting method will only be granted if the taxpayer and the auditor agree to the terms and conditions under which the change will be made. 

The Corporate Taxation Division will review the request. However, in some cases, Form 3115 can be completed with the Internal Revenue Service Center Director. 

Verification of Modifications

Written permission given to a taxpayer by the national office to accept a change in its annual accounting period or a change in its accounting policy is a "decision." Therefore, when reviewing statements involving changes in annual accounting periods and accounting policies, district directors should determine whether the statements for which permission has been granted reflect an accurate materiality statement and whether the adjustments agreed were carried out per the gasoline as proposed. An application, Form 3115, sent to the Director of the Internal Revenue Service Center, is also subject to a similar audit.

Instructions to Taxpayers

A person who wishes to obtain the consent of the statutory auditor for a change in periods or accounting methods per section 442 or 446 (e) of the code is not required to submit the declaration of proposed deletions described in section 601.201 (e)(5) upon request. However, suppose the person seeking the commissioner's consent receives a notification from the National Office that the proposed cancellations should be sent because the resulting decision will be open for a public inspection per Section 6110. In that case, the declaration of proposed cancellation must be submitted within 20 days after sending the notification.



Carmen Garcia
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