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Does the IRS allow individuals (not a business) to account for their income on an accrual basis rather than a cash basis for the purpose of paying personal Federal income taxes?

Note: This question is just a matter of curiosity and I'm not actually considering doing this.

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See also this question in which a comment claims that in India, only non-profit organizations are permitted to use cash basis; everyone else must use accrual basis. If true, weird.... –  Dilip Sarwate Dec 24 '12 at 3:39

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes. But once you chose the method (on your first tax return), you cannot change it without the IRS approval. Similarly the fiscal year.

For individuals, I can't think of any reason why would accrual basis be better than cash, or why would an individual use a fiscal year other than the calendar year.

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Do you happen to have a source my understanding was that individuals couldn't use the accrual method? –  stoj Jan 3 '13 at 17:53
@stoj couldn't? why couldn't? Its just too complicated and IMHO unjustified unless you have too high volume of transactions to track. –  littleadv Jan 3 '13 at 18:00

I can think of one reason: - unsettled losses from shares/stocks (in case had a windfall of cash income in certain year). Obviously I am talking of legitimate transaction(s), not tax planning / avoidance.

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