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As discussed in TX 7.2, the effect of a change in tax laws or rates on a deferred tax liability or asset must be reflected in the period of enactment.
When determining the effect of a tax law change, entities must consider the law change’s effect on the deferred tax balances existing at the enactment date and, to the extent the law change is retroactive, its effect on taxable income through the enactment date. For entities that prepare quarterly financial statements, estimating the effect of the law using the most recent quarter end, adjusted for known material transactions between the enactment date and the quarter end, usually is sufficient. For other entities, calculating the effect of the law change may require additional work. The effect of reversals of beginning deferred tax balances for the period through the enactment date has to be considered, as well as the deferred tax effects of originating temporary differences. Computing this effect, however, requires measuring temporary differences and the related deferred taxes at an interim date, that is, the date of enactment. For determining the effect of a tax rate change, the deferred taxes actually accrued through the enactment date (by application of the estimated annual effective tax rate to year-to-date ordinary income and by discrete recognition of other tax effects) should be used (see more about computing deferred taxes for interim periods in TX 7.4.1).
ASC 740-270-30-11 prohibits including the impact of tax law changes on deferred tax assets or liabilities and taxes payable or refundable for prior years in the computation of the estimated effective tax rate for the year. The adjustment of the beginning-of-year deferred tax balances for the tax rate change would be reflected as a discrete item in the interim period of the enactment. However, the current year originating deferred tax balances are effectively adjusted through the new estimated annual effective tax rate which incorporates the new tax rate change.
When items other than ordinary income have been reported in prior interim periods, both their current and deferred tax effects would be adjusted in the interim period of the enactment.
Regardless of whether they are a component of ordinary income or some other aspect of the annual tax provision, all adjustments to reflect a tax rate change are measured as of the enactment date and reflected in income from continuing operations.

7.4.1 Computing deferred taxes in an interim period

When a change in tax law is enacted on a date that is not close to an entity’s year-end, a question arises as to how temporary differences should be computed as of an interim date. We have identified three potential approaches:
a) Assume that the entity files a short-period tax return as of the date of the law’s enactment. The tax laws govern how annual deductions such as depreciation are allowed in a short-period return. The existing book bases of the assets and liabilities would be compared with these “pro forma” tax bases to determine the temporary differences.
b) Assume that net temporary differences arise and reverse evenly throughout the year. For example, if the beginning net temporary difference is $100 and the projected ending net temporary difference is $220, the temporary difference increases by $10 a month as the year progresses.
c) Assume that net temporary differences arise in the same pattern that pretax accounting income is earned. That is, if pretax income is earned 10%, 20%, 30%, and 40% in the first through fourth quarters, respectively, then temporary differences would increase or decrease on that basis as well.
In terms of the asset-and-liability approach underlying ASC 740, the first alternative might be viewed as the most intuitive, but it is inconsistent with the principles of interim reporting, which treat an interim period as an integral component of the annual period, not as a discrete period. The second alternative would be practical; however, like the first alternative, it is inconsistent with how an entity estimates its quarterly tax provision and, thus, its deferred tax accounts. The third alternative avoids both of those inconsistencies and would be relatively easy to compute. Whichever method is chosen, it should be applied consistently.

7.4.2 Retroactive tax rate change

ASC 740-10-25-48 addresses the accounting for retroactive rate changes.

ASC 740-10-25-48

The tax effect of a retroactive change in enacted tax rates on current and deferred tax assets and liabilities shall be determined at the date of enactment using temporary differences and currently taxable income existing as of the date of enactment.

Therefore, in addition to remeasuring taxes currently payable for the year, the reporting entity will need to roll forward its temporary differences to the date of enactment (as discussed in TX 7.4.1) to properly determine the retroactive effect of the tax law change. In addition, ASC 740-10-45-16 specifies that the cumulative tax effect of a retroactive rate change should be included in income from continuing operations.

ASC 740-10-30-26

The reported tax effect of items not included in income from continuing operations (for example, discontinued operations, cumulative effects of changes in accounting principles, and items charged or credited directly to shareholders’ equity) that arose during the current fiscal year and before the date of enactment of tax legislation shall be measured based on the enacted rate at the time the transaction was recognized for financial reporting purposes.

ASC 740-10-30-26 requires that the reported tax effect of items not included in income from continuing operations arising during the current year and prior to the enactment date should be measured based on the enacted rate at the time the transaction was recognized for financial reporting purposes. The tax effect of a retroactive change in enacted tax rates on current or deferred tax assets and liabilities related to those items is included in income from continuing operations in the period of enactment (ASC 740-10-45-17). The effect of a tax rate change is not to be backward traced.
Example TX 7-2 illustrates the computation of income tax expense when there is an enacted change in tax rates in an interim period.
EXAMPLE TX 7-2
Computation of income tax expense with an enacted change in tax rates in an interim period
Company A recognized a net federal deferred tax liability of $2,500 at December 31, 20X1 related to the temporary differences shown below. Assume that no valuation allowance was necessary for the deferred tax asset.
Fixed assets
Inventory
Book basis [A]
$20,000
$9,000
Tax basis [B]
9,000
10,000
Temporary difference: [A – B = C]
11,000
(1,000)
Federal tax rate for all future years [D]
25%
25%
Federal deferred tax liability or (asset) [C × D]
2,750
(250)
Net Federal deferred tax liability at December 31, 20X1
$2,500
*For purposes of simplicity, the example ignores state income taxes.
Company A projected that, at December 31, 20X2, the net federal deferred tax liability would be $3,250, based on a $3,000 increase in its taxable temporary difference. Therefore, for 20X2, the projected deferred tax expense will be $750 ($3,250 – $2,500).
Company A’s income tax expense for the first quarter of 20X2 was calculated as follows:
Step 1: Estimated taxable income:
Estimated annual pretax book income
$100,000
Less:
Dividends received deduction
(1,000)
Tax over book depreciation
(3,000)
Estimated taxable income
$96,000
Step 2: Annual effective tax rate:
Estimated taxable income
$96,000
Statutory federal income tax rate
25%
Estimated current income taxes payable
24,000
Estimated federal deferred tax expense [$3,000 increase in taxable temporary difference × tax rate of 25%]
750
24,750
Less: research and experimentation tax credit
(2,000)
Estimated full-year income tax provision
$22,750
Estimated annual effective tax rate [$22,750/ $100,000]
22.75%
Step 3: Income tax provision:
Year-to-date pretax income as of March 31, 20X2
$20,000
Estimated full-year effective income tax rate
22.75%
Income tax provision—first-quarter 20X2
$4,550
If an increase from 25% to 30% in the federal income tax rate was enacted on June 15, 20X2, retroactive to the beginning of the year, how would the effect of the change be reflected in income tax expense for the three and six months ended June 30, 20X2?
Analysis
Step 1: Update estimate of taxable income:
Remains unchanged from Step 1 above
Step 2: Recalculate annual effective tax rate:
Estimated taxable income
$96,000
Statutory federal income tax rate
30%
Estimated current income taxes payable
28,800
Estimated federal deferred tax expense [$3,000 increase in taxable temporary difference × tax rate of 30%]
900
29,700
Less: research and experimentation tax credit
(2,000)
Estimated full-year income tax provision
$27,700
Estimated annual effective tax rate [$27,700/$100,000]
27.7%
Step 3: Income tax provision:
Year-to-date pretax income as of June 30, 20X2
$30,000
Estimated annual effective tax rate
27.7%
Year-to-date income tax provision on ordinary income
$8,310
Less: first-quarter income tax provision
(4,550)
Second-quarter income tax provision
$3,760
Adjustment to December 31, 20X1 deferred tax balances
Deferred tax liability ($11,000 × [30% – 25%])
$550
Deferred tax asset ($1,000 × [30% – 25%])
(50)
Net increase in income tax expense
$500
Plus: second-quarter tax expense
3,760
Total second-quarter tax expense
$4,260
Total six months tax expense ($8,310 + $500)
$8,810
Sometimes, tax law or rate changes occur in the same year that new accounting standards are adopted and the effect of the law or rate change may be retroactive and thereby coincide with the accounting standard adoption date. As set forth in ASC 740-10-45-18, if an entity adopted a new accounting standard as of a date prior to the enactment date, the effect of the change in tax laws or rates would not be recognized in the cumulative effect of adopting the standard. Instead, the effect of the change in tax rate would be recognized in income from continuing operations for the period that included the enactment date. This would be true regardless of whether the change in tax laws or rates was retroactive to the earlier date.
1 Assume no net changes in the temporary differences and the related deferred tax balances between December 31, 20X1 and immediately prior to the change in the enactment date of the new tax rate (i.e., June 15, 20X2).
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