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Q.Do I select the Cash or Accrual method of accounting?

A.Most businesses must decide whether to use a cash or accrual method of accounting to record sales and purchases. However if you do not extend credit to your customers (payment due Net 30) and if you do not buy on credit, then by default you are using the cash method of accounting. If, on the other hand, you do buy or sell on credit, the method you choose will generally only affect those transactions that occur toward the end of the calendar year.

The IRS has provided the following three rules for businesses that buy or sell on credit:

  1. If your gross annual sales are $1 million or less, you can choose either the cash or accrual method of accounting.


  2. If your gross annual sales exceed $1 million and you have inventory (goods, parts, etc...), then you must use the accrual method of accounting.


  3. If you opted for corporate taxation and have gross annual sales of $5 million or more, then you must always use the accrual method of accounting.


For most small businesses, the difference between cash and accrual only makes a marginal difference. The difference will only impact those transactions occurring toward the end of the year. As a general rule of thumb, if your gross sales are less than $1 million a year, the easiest method is the cash method of accounting. However, consult your accountant, or a tax specialist, to determine which method of accounting would best serve your businesss.



IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: As required by U.S. Treasury Regulations, you are hereby advised that any written tax advice contained on this web site is not written or intended to be used (and cannot be used) by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on a taxpayer under the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.




Copyright 1999-2018 Melissa C. Marsh. All Rights Reserved. All Information on this website is subject to a Disclaimer and Use Agreement. This information is provided as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. We advise you to seek the advice of competent legal counsel to address your own specific questions, facts and circumstances.