Cash Basis Options

As we enter a new tax season, manufacturers should consider options that may benefit their business. While this topic has been discussed in past Manufacturing Insights articles, the cash basis method of accounting remains an important concept for many manufacturing companies to consider.

TCJA: A Recap
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) that was signed into law in December 2017 introduced changes to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) the likes of which have not been seen since the Tax Reform Act of 1986. One of the most beneficial additions to the IRC resulting from the TCJA is the opportunity for some manufacturers to switch to a cash basis method of accounting.

Pros & Cons of Cash Basis Accounting
Under prior law, businesses with inventories were typically required to use the accrual method, which generally requires income to be recognized when it is earned and expenses to be recognized when they are incurred. The major pitfall to the accrual method of accounting is that it often accelerates the recognition of income and the related tax payments. That can create a cash flow problem. Under the cash basis of accounting, income is recognized when the money is received and expenses are deducted when they are paid. Improved cash flow is just one benefit associated with cash accounting; for example, the business can accelerate tax deductions by paying expenses prior to the end of its tax year.

Who is Eligible?
The TCJA allows businesses with average annual gross receipts of less than $25 million – based on their previous three tax years – to adopt a cash accounting method and thereby potentially defer the recognition of income to future tax years. In addition, businesses under that $25 million threshold are no longer required to account for their cost of goods sold using inventories.

Instead, they can use a method of accounting that treats inventories as non-incidental materials and supplies or that mimics their financial accounting treatment of inventories. As such, the business can expense inventory as it is actually paid for, rather than being required to capitalize it – that is, not expense it. It is a very favorable change in that it will add to the business’s deduction for the cost of goods sold. Treating inventories as non-incidental materials and supplies also exempts the business from applying Section 263A, which requires certain costs ordinarily expensed to be capitalized as part of the inventory for tax purposes. Combining these opportunities could yield considerable benefits.

The TCJA expands the pool of businesses that are eligible to use the cash method of accounting. Likely, many manufacturers previously prohibited from using the cash basis method of accounting will now be eligible. Nonetheless, it is imperative to conduct a thorough analysis of your specific circumstances.

For questions or to arrange a study of the potential opportunities for your company, contact a member of the HBK Manufacturing Industry Group at 330-758-8613 or

About the Author(s)

Jim is a Principal of HBK CPAs & Consultants and the National Director of HBK Manufacturing Solutions, a group of specialists focused on manufacturing clients and their unique needs.

After joining the firm in 1988, Jim has spent his career working in a variety of industries, including manufacturing and distribution. As the National Director of HBK Manufacturing Solutions, Jim advises manufacturing clients on issues including tax planning, finance, succession planning, mergers and acquisitions, and ESOP transitions. In addition, he shares his knowledge and experiences with manufacturing specialists throughout the firm as well as local and regional organizations and trade associations focused on the manufacturing industry. To recognize his accomplishments, Jim was named Business Professional of the Year in August 2019 by the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In addition to his HBK role, Jim is Chairman of the Board of the Youngstown Business Incubator, an internationally recognized incubator focused on programs including the use of additive manufacturing and advanced manufacturing technologies in the Mahoning Valley and Northeast Ohio.

Hill, Barth & King LLC has prepared this material for informational purposes only. Any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or under any state or local tax law or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding the matter.