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Publication 334

Accounting for Your Income(p26)

Accounting for your income for income tax purposes differs at times from accounting for financial purposes. This section discusses some of the more common differences that may affect business transactions.
Figure your business income on the basis of a tax year and according to your regular method of accounting (see chapter 2). If the sale of a product is an income-producing factor in your business, you usually have to use inventories to clearly show your income. Dealers in real estate are not allowed to use inventories. For more information on inventories, see chapter 2.

Income paid to a third party.(p26)

All income you earn is taxable to you. You cannot avoid tax by having the income paid to a third party.


You rent out your property and the rental agreement directs the lessee to pay the rent to your son. The amount paid to your son is gross income to you.

Cash discounts.(p26)

These are amounts the seller permits you to deduct from the invoice price for prompt payment. For income tax purposes, you can use either of the following two methods to account for cash discounts.
  1. Deduct the cash discount from purchases (see Line 36, Purchases Less Cost of Items Withdrawn for Personal Use in chapter 6).
  2. Credit the cash discount to a discount income account.
You must use the chosen method every year for all your purchase discounts.
If you use the second method, the credit balance in the account at the end of your tax year is business income. Under this method, you do not reduce the cost of goods sold by the cash discounts you received. When valuing your closing inventory, you cannot reduce the invoice price of merchandise on hand at the close of the tax year by the average or estimated discounts received on the merchandise.

Trade discounts.(p26)

These are reductions from list or catalog prices and usually are not written into the invoice or charged to the customer. Do not enter these discounts on your books of account. Instead, use only the net amount as the cost of the merchandise purchased. For more information, see Trade discounts in chapter 6.

Payment placed in escrow.(p26)

If the buyer of your property places part or all of the purchase price in escrow, you do not include any part of it in gross sales until you actually or constructively receive it. However, upon completion of the terms of the contract and the escrow agreement, you will have taxable income, even if you do not accept the money until the next year.

Sales returns and allowances.(p26)

Credits you allow customers for returned merchandise and any other allowances you make on sales are deductions from gross sales in figuring net sales.

Advance payments.(p26)

Special rules dealing with an accrual method of accounting for payments received in advance are discussed in chapter 2 under Accrual Method.

Insurance proceeds.(p26)

If you receive insurance or another type of reimbursement for a casualty or theft loss, you must subtract it from the loss when you figure your deduction. You cannot deduct the reimbursed part of a casualty or theft loss.
For information on casualty or theft losses, see Publication 547, Casualties, Disasters, and Thefts.