IRS updates accounting method change procedures

By Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.

The IRS issued new procedures taxpayers should use to make accounting method changes. Rev. Proc. 2015-13 contains the rules taxpayers should follow to make nonautomatic changes in methods of accounting, which are changes that require the IRS’s consent. It also contains the procedures for applying for automatic changes in accounting method, which do not require the IRS’s consent. Rev. Proc. 2015-14 contains the list of automatic changes in accounting procedure to which the automatic change procedures in Rev. Proc. 2015-13 apply.

Any method of accounting a taxpayer adopts must clearly reflect income. Under Sec. 446(e) and Regs. Sec. 1.446-1(e)(2)(i), unless otherwise provided, a taxpayer must secure the IRS’s consent before changing its accounting method. To obtain the IRS’s consent, taxpayers file Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method. Even when the IRS’s consent is not required, taxpayers must file Form 3115.

Rev. Procs. 2015-13 and 2015-14 modify and supersede, for the most part, Rev. Proc. 2011-14. The new procedures apply to Forms 3115 filed on or after Jan. 16, 2015, for a year of change ending on or after May 31, 2014. Under a transition rule, taxpayers may choose to apply Rev. Proc. 97-27 to Forms 3115 for tax years ending on or after Nov. 30, 2014, and ending on or before Jan. 16, 2015, until March 2, 2015, but they must indicate this on the top of Form 3115.

Sally P. Schreiber is a JofA senior editor.

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