May 01, 2016

Mandatory Accrual Accounting

ABA President Paulette Brown, in a statement for the record of an April 26 hearing on “Navigating Business Tax Reform,” urged members of the Senate Finance Committee to oppose proposals that would require personal service businesses, including law firms, with annual gross receipts over $10 million to switch from the simple cash method of accounting to the more complex and costly accrual method. The proposals were included as Section 51 of the committee’s staff discussion draft tax reform bill during the 113th Congress and are part of similar proposals currently under consideration. “Although we commend you and your colleagues for your efforts to craft legislation aimed at simplifying the tax laws – an objective that the ABA and its Section of Taxation have long supported – we are concerned that mandatory accrual accounting proposals like Section 51 would have the opposite effect and cause other negative unintended consequences,” Brown wrote. “These far-reaching proposals would create unnecessary new complexity in the tax law by disallowing the use of the cash method; increase compliance costs; and cause substantial financial hardship to many lawyers, law firms, and other personal service businesses by requiring them to pay tax on income long before it is actually received. Brown emphasized that the mandatory accrual accounting proposals are also opposed by more than 30 state, local and specialty bars throughout the country. Last month, Brown conveyed a similar message to members of the House Ways and Means Committee prior to its Tax Policy Subcommittee’s April 13 hearing on “Fundamental Tax Reform Proposals.”

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