Tax Accounting Method Changes
Is a Form 3115 Required and When?
Some of the opportunities listed in our Business Guide for changing the timing of income recognition and deductions require taxpayers to submit a request to change their method of tax accounting for a particular item of income or expense.
Generally, tax accounting method change requests require taxpayers to file a Form 3115, Application for Change in Accounting Method, with the IRS under one of the following two procedures:
The “automatic” change procedure, which requires the taxpayer to attach the Form 3115 to the timely filed (including extensions) federal tax return for the year of change and to file a separate copy of the Form 3115 with the IRS no later than the filing date of that return; or
The “nonautomatic” change procedure, which applies when a change is not listed as automatic and requires the Form 3115 (including a more robust discussion of the legal authorities than an automatic Form 3115 would include) to be filed with the IRS National Office during the year of change along with an IRS user fee. Calendar-year taxpayers that want to make a nonautomatic change for the 2022 taxable year should be cognizant of the accelerated December 31, 2022, due date for filing Form 3115.
Tax accounting method changes generally allow for the recognition of unfavorable changes over four years while allowing the full amount of any favorable changes in the year of the change.