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Tax Provision

How to comply with the complexities of interim tax reporting

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

· 5 minute read

Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting  

· 5 minute read

Businesses that do not have sound tax provision processes are at an elevated risk of damaging their company’s financial health. That’s because interim tax reporting plays a pivotal role in providing valuable financial information between annual reporting periods. By understanding the significance of interim tax reporting and following best practices, businesses can effectively navigate this process.

Why is interim reporting important?

Interim tax reports give stakeholders important financial information needed to evaluate tax-related risks and opportunities, and to make informed investment or lending decisions. Moreover, interim tax reporting enables businesses to proactively identify and address tax-related issues. This helps mitigate potential risks, optimize tax strategies, and enhance overall financial performance.

Furthermore, interim tax reporting contributes to the accuracy and reliability of financial statements. By ensuring that interim tax provisions are properly recorded and reported, companies can enhance the credibility and transparency of their financial information.

Lastly, interim tax reporting is crucial for complying with accounting standards and regulatory requirements such as FASB Accounting Standards Codification 740-270 Income Taxes (ASC 740).

By following ASC 740, companies must distinguish between elements recognized through the use of an annual estimated tax rate (AETR) versus those recognized as specific (discrete) events occurring during the reporting period. Adherence to these standards enables users to make meaningful comparisons between companies and over different reporting periods.

ASC 740: A guide to providing accurate, reliable financial information

ASC 740 provides guidance on all aspects of interim financial reporting. Under ASC 740, companies must:

  • Report financial results every quarter
  • Use the same accounting policies in interim financial statements and annual financial statements
  • Recognize revenue and expenses in the interim period in which they are earned or incurred
  • Disclose certain information in their interim financial statements, such as the nature and amount of any significant non-recurring items

By following ASC 740 requirements, companies can help improve the transparency of their financial statements and make it easier for investors to understand their financial performance.

4 calculation methods for interim reporting:

  1. The annual effective tax rate method is the simplest as it involves multiplying the company’s pretax income for the interim period by the annual effective tax rate. It is the company’s expected income tax expense for the year divided by expected pretax income for the year.
  2. Next is the quarterly effective tax rate method. It is similar to the annual rate method, but it uses the quarterly effective tax rate instead.
  3. The cumulative effective tax rate method is more complex, but it can be more accurate. This method involves multiplying the company’s cumulative pretax income for the year-to-date by the cumulative effective tax rate. It is the company’s expected income tax expense for the year-to-date divided by its expected pretax income for the year-to-date.
  4. Finally, the discounted present value method is the most complex but can be the most accurate. It involves multiplying the company’s pretax income for the interim period by the discounted present value of the expected future tax rates. It is the sum of the present values of the expected future tax rates for each remaining quarter in the year.

Overcoming many hurdles in reporting

A common challenge is the inconsistent application of accounting policies, which can occur when different accountants or departments within a company interpret and apply accounting rules differently.

Another challenge is the difficulty in accurately estimating the annual effective tax rate. The rate, which can be tough to estimate, is the company’s expected income tax expense for the year divided by its expected pretax income for the year.

Changes in tax laws or regulations can also present danger. When changes occur, companies must update their interim tax provisions, which can be a complex and time-consuming process. Complex tax structures can also make interim tax reporting more burdensome. Companies may find it difficult to allocate income and expenses to interim periods.

All of these challenges can potentially lead to material errors. To ensure accurate interim tax reporting and compliance with ASC 740, companies should have a robust system of internal controls in place, including procedures for identifying and correcting errors and staying up-to-date with the latest tax regulations.

5 tips for accurate interim tax reporting:

  1. Reconcile interim tax provision with actual tax liability: This step is essential to ensuring the accuracy of the interim tax provision and prevent over- or under-provisioning for income taxes. Start by comparing the interim tax provision to the actual tax liability from the prior year. This will provide a baseline for making necessary adjustments.
  2. Thoroughly document all assumptions and methodologies, including sources, calculations, and conclusions: Transparency is key in interim tax reporting. This process enhances the clarity of the reporting and facilitates easy auditing.
  3. Monitor tax law changes: Be sure to make prompt adjustments to the interim tax provision when new laws are passed or existing laws are updated.
  4. Embrace technology: Automation can minimize the risk of errors and omissions in the interim tax reporting process, and it can free up valuable time for finance professionals to focus on strategic tasks.
  5. Stay informed and seek professional guidance: Keep abreast of the latest developments in tax regulations and accounting standards. If needed, seek guidance from tax professionals or external auditors.

By implementing these practical tips and staying informed, companies can enhance the accuracy of their interim tax reporting, and mitigate potential risks related to tax compliance.


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