FIFO and LIFO accounting

Last updated

FIFO and LIFO accounting are methods used in managing inventory and financial matters involving the amount of money a company has to have tied up within inventory of produced goods, raw materials, parts, components, or feedstocks. They are used to manage assumptions of costs related to inventory, stock repurchases (if purchased at different prices), and various other accounting purposes. The following equation is useful when determining inventory costing methods:

Beginning Inventory Balance + Purchased (or Manufactured) Inventory
=
Inventory Sold + Ending Inventory Balance

Contents

FIFO

"FIFO" stands for first-in, first-out, meaning that the oldest inventory items are recorded as sold first but do not necessarily mean that the exact oldest physical object has been tracked and sold. In other words, the cost associated with the inventory that was purchased first is the cost expensed first. With FIFO, the cost of inventory reported on the balance sheet represents the cost of the inventory most recently purchased. FIFO most closely mimics the flow of inventory, as businesses are far more likely to sell the oldest inventory first.

Consider this example: Foo Co. had the following inventory at hand, in order of acquisition in November:

Number of unitsCost
100 units$50
125 units$55
75 units$59

If Foo Co. sells 210 units during November, the company would expense the cost associated with the first 100 units at $50 and the remaining 110 units at $55. Under FIFO, the total cost of sales for November would be $11,050. The ending inventory would be calculated the following way:

Number of unitsPrice per unitTotal
Remaining 15 units$55$825 ($55 x 15 units)
75 units$59$4425 ($59 x 75 units)
Total$5250

Thus, the balance sheet would now show the inventory valued at $5250.

FIFO Tax Implications

FIFO will have a higher ending inventory value and lower cost of goods sold (COGS) compared to LIFO in a period of rising prices. Therefore, under these circumstances, FIFO would produce a higher gross profit and, similarly, a higher income tax expense.

LIFO

"LIFO" stands for last-in, first-out, meaning that the most recently produced items are recorded as sold first. Since the 1970s, some U.S. companies shifted towards the use of LIFO, which reduces their income taxes in times of inflation, but since International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) banned LIFO, more companies returned to FIFO.[ citation needed ]

LIFO is used only in the United States, which is governed by the generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). Section 472 of the Internal Revenue Code directs how LIFO may be used. [1]

In the example above, the company (Foo Co.) (using LIFO accounting) would expense the cost associated with the first 75 units at $59, 125 more units at $55, and the remaining 10 units at $50. Under LIFO, the total cost of sales for November would be $11,800. The ending inventory would be calculated the following way:

Number of unitsPrice per unitTotal
Remaining 90 units$50$4500 ($50 x 90 units)
Total$4500

The balance sheet would show $4500 in inventory under LIFO.

The difference between the cost of an inventory calculated under the FIFO and LIFO methods is called the LIFO reserve (in the example above, it is $750). This reserve is essentially the amount by which an entity's taxable income has been deferred by using the LIFO method. [2]

In most sets of accounting standards, such as the International Financial Reporting Standards, FIFO (or LIFO) valuation principles are "in-fine" subordinated to the higher principle of lower of cost or market valuation.

In the United States, publicly traded entities which use LIFO for taxation purposes must also use LIFO for financial reporting purposes [3] but such companies are also likely to report a LIFO reserve to their shareholders. A number of tax reform proposals have argued for the repeal of LIFO tax provision. The "Save LIFO Coalition" argues in favor of the retention of LIFO. [4]

FIFO

Stands for first-in, first-out - a way of dealing with perishable products, or with a specified expiry date.

Related Research Articles

Historical cost

In accounting, an economic item's historical cost is the original nominal monetary value of that item. Historical cost accounting involves reporting assets and liabilities at their historical costs, which are not updated for changes in the items' values. Consequently, the amounts reported for these balance sheet items often differ from their current economic or market values.

Inventory Goods held for resale

Inventory or stock refers to the goods and materials that a business holds for the ultimate goal of resale, production or utilisation.

In accounting, book value is the value of an asset according to its balance sheet account balance. For assets, the value is based on the original cost of the asset less any depreciation, amortization or impairment costs made against the asset. Traditionally, a company's book value is its total assets minus intangible assets and liabilities. However, in practice, depending on the source of the calculation, book value may variably include goodwill, intangible assets, or both. The value inherent in its workforce, part of the intellectual capital of a company, is always ignored. When intangible assets and goodwill are explicitly excluded, the metric is often specified to be "tangible book value".

Expenditure is an outflow of money, or any form of fortune in general, to another person or group to pay for an item or service, or for a category of costs. For a tenant, rent is an expense. For students or parents, tuition is an expense. Buying food, clothing, furniture or an automobile is often referred to as an expense. An expense is a cost that is "paid" or "remitted", usually in exchange for something of value. Something that seems to cost a great deal is "expensive". Something that seems to cost little is "inexpensive". "Expenses of the table" are expenses of dining, refreshments, a feast, etc.

Cost of goods sold

Cost of goods sold (COGS) is the carrying value of goods sold during a particular period.

Depreciation Decrease in asset values, or the allocation of cost thereof

In accountancy, depreciation refers to two aspects of the same concept: first, the actual decrease of fair value of an asset, such as the decrease in value of factory equipment each year as it is used and wears, and second, the allocation in accounting statements of the original cost of the assets to periods in which the assets are used.

Tax deduction is a reduction of income that is able to be taxed and is commonly a result of expenses, particularly those incurred to produce additional income. Tax deductions are a form of tax incentives, along with exemptions and credits. The difference between deductions, exemptions and credits is that deductions and exemptions both reduce taxable income, while credits reduce tax.

Income statement

An income statement or profit and loss account is one of the financial statements of a company and shows the company's revenues and expenses during a particular period.

Financial accounting

Financial accounting is the field of accounting concerned with the summary, analysis and reporting of financial transactions related to a business. This involves the preparation of financial statements available for public use. Stockholders, suppliers, banks, employees, government agencies, business owners, and other stakeholders are examples of people interested in receiving such information for decision making purposes.

Matching principle

In accrual accounting, the revenue recognition principle states that revenues should be recorded during the period in which they are earned, regardless of when the transfer of cash occurs. And the matching principle instructs that an expense should be reported in the same period in which the corresponding revenue is earned, and is associated with accrual accounting. By recognizing costs in the period they are incurred, a business can see how much money was spent to generate revenue, reducing "noise" from timing mismatch between when costs are incurred and when revenue is realized. Conversely, cash basis accounting calls for the recognition of an expense when the cash is paid, regardless of when the expense was actually incurred.

Inventory control or stock control can be broadly defined as "the activity of checking a shop’s stock." It is the process of ensuring that the right amount of supply is available within a business. However, a more focused definition takes into account the more science-based, methodical practice of not only verifying a business' inventory but also maximising the amount of profit from the least amount of inventory investment without affecting customer satisfaction. Other facets of inventory control include forecasting future demand, supply chain management, production control, financial flexibility, purchasing data, loss prevention and turnover, and customer satisfaction.

Goodwill (accounting) Intangible asset

Goodwill in accounting is an intangible asset that arises when a buyer acquires an existing business. Goodwill represents assets that are not separately identifiable. Goodwill does not include identifiable assets that are capable of being separated or divided from the entity and sold, transferred, licensed, rented, or exchanged, either individually or together with a related contract, identifiable asset, or liability regardless of whether the entity intends to do so. Goodwill also does not include contractual or other legal rights regardless of whether those are transferable or separable from the entity or other rights and obligations. Goodwill is also only acquired through an acquisition; it cannot be self-created. Examples of identifiable assets that are goodwill include a company’s brand name, customer relationships, artistic intangible assets, and any patents or proprietary technology. The goodwill amounts to the excess of the "purchase consideration" over the net value of the assets minus liabilities. It is classified as an intangible asset on the balance sheet, since it can neither be seen nor touched. Under US GAAP and IFRS, goodwill is never amortized, because it is considered to have an indefinite useful life. Instead, management is responsible for valuing goodwill every year and to determine if an impairment is required. If the fair market value goes below historical cost, an impairment must be recorded to bring it down to its fair market value. However, an increase in the fair market value would not be accounted for in the financial statements. Private companies in the United States, however, may elect to amortize goodwill over a period of ten years or less under an accounting alternative from the Private Company Council of the FASB.

Lower of cost or market is a conservative approach to valuing and reporting inventory. Normally, ending inventory is stated at historical cost. However, there are times when the original cost of the ending inventory is greater than the net realizable value, and thus the inventory has lost value. If the inventory has decreased in value below historical cost, then its carrying value is reduced and reported on the balance sheet. The criterion for reporting this is the current market value. Any loss resulting from the decline in the value of inventory is charged to "Cost of goods sold" (COGS) if non-material, or "Loss on the reduction of inventory to LCM" if material.

Specific identification (inventories)

Specific identification is a method of finding out ending inventory cost.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to accounting:

An inventory valuation allows a company to provide a monetary value for items that make up their inventory. Inventories are usually the largest current asset of a business, and proper measurement of them is necessary to assure accurate financial statements. If inventory is not properly measured, expenses and revenues cannot be properly matched and a company could make poor business decisions.

Average cost method

Under the 'average cost method', it is assumed that the cost of inventory is based on the average cost of the goods available for sale during the period.

Financial ratio

A financial ratio or accounting ratio is a relative magnitude of two selected numerical values taken from an enterprise's financial statements. Often used in accounting, there are many standard ratios used to try to evaluate the overall financial condition of a corporation or other organization. Financial ratios may be used by managers within a firm, by current and potential shareholders (owners) of a firm, and by a firm's creditors. Financial analysts use financial ratios to compare the strengths and weaknesses in various companies. If shares in a company are traded in a financial market, the market price of the shares is used in certain financial ratios.

IAS 2 is an international financial reporting standard produced and disseminated by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) to provide guidance on the valuation and classification of inventories.

References

  1. Internal Revenue Code, § 472: Last-in, first-out inventories, accessed 23 December 2016
  2. "LIFO Reserve Definition". AccountingTools. Retrieved 2011-11-09.
  3. "LIFO Conformity Rules". Mondaq. Retrieved 2015-07-09.
  4. About Save LIFO Coalition, accessed 23 December 2016