New Comprehensive List of Automatic Accounting Method Changes Issued by IRS

When the IRS issued the list of automatic accounting method changes as a separate Revenue Procedure in Revenue Procedure 2015-13 in early 2015 rather than as an appendix to the general Revenue Procedure in accounting method changes, the clear implication was that this would allow the IRS to issue a comprehensive list of changes on a more regular basis.  Revenue Procedure 2016-29 is the first time the IRS takes advantage of this structure, creating a comprehensive list of automatic changes, update for new automatic changes issued since Revenue Procedure 2015-13, superseding that procedure and incorporating changes made since the issuance of that procedure.

Following the issuance of Revenue Procedure 2015-13, the IRS had issued modifications/additions to the automatic list in Revenue Procedures 2015-33 and Revenue Procedure 2016-1.  Thus to obtain the complete list of automatic changes and current rules an adviser would need to check Revenue Procedure 2015-13 along with those changes. 

Previously, when the list was an appendix on the general Revenue Procedure for changes in methods, over time the adviser would need to consult a growing list of such revisions until such time as the IRS decided to revise the full Revenue Procedure outlining changes in accounting methods.

Only time will tell how often the IRS issues these revised lists, but presumably since the IRS issued this one a little over a year after the original one was issued and after only two rulings that impacted the old ruling, it seems likely to become a close to annual event so long as any change was issued.

However, this will mean advisers will need to keep their eyes out for these new procedures and that articles, manuals, etc. that provide guidance in the area of accounting method changes will become dated much more quickly.  Thus, before simply accepting the “how to” found in a manual or article regarding some method change, the adviser will need to consult his/her tax service to insure that the ruling the article was based on has not now been superseded.