Who Can Use the Cash Method?

Although the IRS allows all businesses to use the accrual method of accounting, most small businesses can instead use the cash method for tax purposes. The cash method can offer more flexibility in tax planning because you can sometimes time your receipt of revenue or payments of expenses to shift these items from one tax year to another.

However, some businesses must use the accrual method: corporations that are not S corporations and partnerships that have at least one corporation (other than an S corporation) as a shareholder. There are some exceptions to these restrictions the cash method is available for farming businesses and entities (including corporations) with average annual gross receipts of less than five million dollars for all prior years.

Tax shelters may never use the cash method. If your business has inventories, you must use the accrual method, at least for sales and merchandise purchases.

If you are thinking about using the cash method of accounting for tax purposes, you should discuss these rules with your accountant.