For a taxpayer using an accrual method of accounting, the all events test is not met for item of gross income any later than when is included in revenue on an applicable financial statement (AFS) or other financial statement specified by the Treasury Secretary. How the AFS income inclusion rule applies to accrual method taxpayers with an AFS is described and clarified by Proposed Reg. §1.451-3.

Year-by-Year Application
The proposed regulations provide that the AFS income inclusion rule generally applies to accrual method taxpayers with an AFS when the timing of income inclusion for one or more items of income is determined using the all events test. They further clarify that the AFS income inclusion rule applies only to taxpayers that have one or more AFS covering the entire tax year.

The AFS income inclusion rule applies on a year-by-year basis and, therefore, an accrual taxpayer with an AFS in one tax year that does not have an AFS in another tax year must apply the AFS income inclusion rule in the tax year that it has an AFS, and does not apply the rule in the tax year in which it does not have an AFS.

No Change to Income Tax Treatment
The proposed regulations also clarify that AFS income inclusion rule does not change the treatment of a transaction for federal income tax purposes:

  • The treatment of a transaction or event in a tax year may be different for federal income tax and AFS purposes.
  • The applicability of any exclusion provision, or the treatment of nonrecognition transactions, in the Code, the Income Tax Regulations, or other guidance does not change.

Partial Payment
The proposed regulations provide that an amount included in the transaction price for AFS purposes may not be treated as contingent on the occurrence or nonoccurrence of a future event if the taxpayer has been paid or has an equitable, contractual, or other right to partial payment for performance completed to date. Additionally, that transaction price may not be reduced for amounts subject to Code Sec. 461, including reward amounts in credit card transactions.

Special Methods and Multi-Year Contracts
The proposed regulations clarify that when a taxpayer uses a special method of accounting, the special method of accounting determines the timing of the income inclusion.

Proposed regulations also provide guidance for taxpayers with a financial reporting period that is different than the taxpayer’s tax year. The taxpayer must use one of three permissible methods in order to determine whether an item of income has been included in revenue on an AFS.

For a contract with multiple performance obligations, the allocation of the transaction price to each performance obligation equals the amount allocated to each performance obligation for purposes of including the item in revenue in the taxpayer’s AFS. The proposed regulations clarify that a transaction price does not include amounts collected on behalf of third parties, or amounts that are contingent on the occurrence or nonoccurrence of a future event.

A taxpayer with a multi-year contract applies the all events test by applying a cumulative approach reflecting amounts previously included under Code Sec. 451 rather than an annualized approach.

Under the proposed regulations if the taxpayer does not treat a fee as discount or as an adjustment to the yield of a debt instrument over the life of the instrument (such as points) in its AFS, and the fee otherwise would be treated as creating or increasing original issue discount (OID) for federal income tax purposes (specified fee), then the rules in the proposed regulations under Code Sec. 451(b) apply before the rules in Code Secs. 1271 through Code Sec. 1275. Removing specified fees and specified credit card fees from the calculation of OID will permit taxpayers to apply only the rules of Code Sec. 451(b) to these fees, without also having to apply the rules relevant to OID.

The proposed section regulations would not apply to determine the time at which OID generally is includible in income.

Effective Date
The regulations are proposed generally to apply to tax years beginning on or after the date the final regulations are published in the Federal Register. However, in the case of a specified fee, Proposed Reg. §1.451-3(i)(2) is proposed to apply for a taxpayer’s first tax year beginning one year after the date the Treasury Decision adopting these regulations as final is published in the Federal Register.

A taxpayer may rely on the proposed regulations (other than the proposed regulations relating to specified fees) for tax years beginning after December 31, 2017 (after December 31, 2018, for specified credit card fees), as long as the taxpayer: (1) applies all the applicable rules contained in the proposed regulations for specified credit card fees; and (2) consistently applies the proposed regulations to all items of income during the tax year (other than specified fees).