the lifo conformity rule

The goal is to make the presentation of inventory value as attractive as possible. For internal reports, which are viewed by shareholders that benefit from company profit, the FIFO method is typically used because it presents the actual or reasonably expected profit the company stands to generate. 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.

  • Supplying non-LIFO-based financial statements to outside investors or banks would violate LIFO conformity and potentially force the taxpayer to no longer use LIFO for tax purposes.
  • 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.
  • The LIFO reserve is an account used to bridge the gap between FIFO and LIFO costs when a company uses the FIFO method to track its inventory but reports under the LIFO method in the preparation of its financial statements.
  • In other words, the LIFO reserve is critical because it ultimately offers the most accurate and most complete picture of a company’s inventory, sales, revenue, and profits.
  • Unfortunately, this results in reporting lower GAAP financials results to investors, lenders, shareholders and creditors.
  • Many companies use dollarvalue LIFO, since this method applies
    inflation factors to “inventory pools” rather than adjusting
    individual inventory items.

Companies may well be reluctant to move to IFRS for inventory
reporting if they are using LIFO, unless the LIFO conformity rule were
relaxed. Perhaps they would be allowed to still report LIFO for tax
but to adhere to IFRS for accounting. Maybe two sets of financial
statements, one on IFRS, the other on GAAP permitting LIFO, would be
allowed. Another possibility would be for the Treasury Department to
extend the period over which those tax obligations are due beyond the
currently allowed four years. Still another possibility would be for
companies to offset the obligations against net operating losses with
carrybacks and carryforwards. Or perhaps different reporting standards
could be used for larger versus smaller companies.


Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances. 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. Fortunately, you can spread out the tax payments over four years in equal, interest-free installments. Inflation is abnormally high across most sectors compared to the last few decades.

Then, for internal purposes, such as in the case of investor reporting, the same company can use the FIFO method of inventory accounting, which reports lower costs and higher margins, which is attractive to investors. In periods of rising prices, constant increases in costs can create a credit balance in the LIFO reserve, which results in lifo reserve reduced inventory costs when reported on the balance sheet. A change from LIFO to any other method will impact the balance sheet
as well as the income statement in the year of the change. The LIFO
reserve is a contra-asset or asset reduction account that companies
use to adjust downward the cost of inventory carried at FIFO to LIFO.

The Death of LIFO?

First of all, it used an inventory method other
than LIFO to calculate income. Secondly, these financial statements
were then used for a letter of credit, which is deemed “for
credit purposes.” And finally, this company failed to provide
supplementary or explanatory information. For example, the “LIFO conformity rule” 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 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. The LIFO conformity rule requires that, if the LIFO cost flow method is used to compile taxable income, it must also be used in the financial statements. 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 (such as FIFO) to derive a higher income figure in their financial statements.

the lifo conformity rule