The IRS has released final regulations addressing the post-2017 simplified accounting rules for small businesses. The final regulations adopt and modify proposed regulations released in August 2020.
Implementation of the Rules
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act ( P.L. 115-97) put in place a single $25 million gross receipts test for determining whether certain taxpayers qualify as small taxpayers that can use the cash method of accounting, are not required to use inventories, are not required to apply the Uniform Capitalization (UNICAP rules), and are not required to use the percentage of completion method for a small construction contract.
Highlights of Changes in the Final Regulations
Annual syndicate election. The proposed regulations permit a taxpayer to elect to use the allocated taxable income or loss of the immediately preceding tax year to determine whether the taxpayer is a syndicate under Code Sec. 448(d)(3) for the current tax year. Under the proposed regulations, a taxpayer that makes this election must apply the rule to all subsequent tax years, unless it receives IRS permission to revoke the election.
The final regulations provide additional relief by making the election an annual election. The election is valid only for the tax year for which it is made, and once made, cannot be revoked. The IRS intends to issue procedural guidance to address the revocation of an election made under the proposed regulations as a result of the application of the final regulations.
Five-year written consent requirement relaxed. The proposed regulations require a taxpayer that meets the gross receipts test in the current tax year to obtain the written consent of the Commissioner before changing to the cash method if the taxpayer had previously changed its overall method from the cash method during any of the five tax years ending with the current tax year. The final regulations remove the 5-year restriction on making automatic accounting method changes for certain situations.
Other changes. Additional changes include the following:
- To reduce confusion about the nature of property treated as non-incidental materials and supplies under Code Sec. 471(c)(1)(B)(i), the final regulations refer to the method under that provision as the “section 471(c) NIMS inventory method.”
- The final regulations provide that inventory costs includible in the section 471(c) NIMS inventory method are direct material costs of the property produced or the costs of property acquired for resale.
- Examples are added to clarify the principle that a taxpayer may not ignore its regular accounting procedures or portions of its books and records under the non-AFS section 471(c) inventory method.
- The final regulations clarify how a taxpayer treats costs to acquire or produce tangible property that the taxpayer does not capitalize in its books and records.
The final regulations are applicable for tax years beginning on or after the date of publication in the Federal Register. However, a taxpayer may apply the final regulations under a particular Code provision for a tax year beginning after December 31, 2017, if the taxpayer follows all the applicable rules contained in the regulations that relate to that Code provision for the tax year and all subsequent tax years, and follows the administrative procedures for filing a change in method of accounting.