Connect With Us
The cash method of accounting is very simple to use, because it's usually obvious when you receive money from a customer or other payor, or when you pay an expense with cash, credit card or a check. When money comes in or goes out, it's recorded and recognized for tax purposes. By contrast, the accrual method requires you to recognize transactions when they occur, not necessarily when the cash changes hands.
However, as you would expect, there are a few complicating factors to remember. For one thing, if you are paid in the form of property or services instead of money, or if you pay some of your own debts through some type of barter arrangement, you must recognize these payments at the fair market value of what you give or receive.
You can't delay recognition of income by not taking control of money that you're entitled to receive. Under the cash method, income is recognized when it is actually or constructively received. "Constructive receipt" occurs when money is made available to you without restriction, is posted to your account, or is received by your agent.
Similarly, if you receive interest on a money market account, you have constructive receipt of the money when it is credited to your account, not when it is withdrawn.
Under the cash method, you may deduct business expenses in the year you pay them. However, some expenditures are not entirely deductible in the year you pay for them; for example, the purchase price of capital assets must be depreciated or amortized over a number of years. Generally, if you make advance payments for an expense that apply substantially beyond the end of the current year, the payments must be prorated and deducted proportionately over the period in which the payments apply.
Some of the more common items that fall under this rule are amounts paid to obtain a loan, such as prepaid interest, points, and loan origination fees, which must ordinarily be deducted in equal amounts over the course of the loan.
Advance lease payments must be deducted in the year to which they apply, and amounts paid to acquire a lease from another lessee must be deducted evenly over the course of the entire lease.