Statement on Standards for Tax Services No. 4, Use of Estimates
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Statement on Standards for Tax Services No. 4, Use of Estimates

2 years ago · 2 min read

Introduction

  1. This statement sets forth the applicable standards for members when using the taxpayer’s estimates in the preparation of a tax return. A member may advise on estimates used in the preparation of a tax return, but the taxpayer has the responsibility to provide the estimated data. Appraisals or valuations are not considered estimates for purposes of this statement.

    Statement

  2. Unless prohibited by statute or by rule, a member may use the taxpayer’s estimates in the preparation of a tax return if it is not practical to obtain exact data and if the member determines that the estimates are reasonable based on the facts and circumstances known to the member. The taxpayer’s estimates should be presented in a manner that does not imply greater accuracy than exists.

    Explanation

  3. Accounting requires the exercise of professional judgment and, in many instances, the use of approximations based on judgment. The application of such accounting judgments, as long as not in conflict with methods set forth by a taxing authority, is acceptable. These judgments are not estimates within the purview of this statement. For example, a federal income tax regulation provides that if all other conditions for accrual are met, the exact amount of income or expense need not be known or ascertained at year end if the amount can be determined with reasonable accuracy.

  4. When the taxpayer’s records do not accurately reflect information related to small expenditures, accuracy in recording some data may be difficult to achieve. Therefore, the use of estimates by a taxpayer in determining the amount to be deducted for such items may be appropriate.

  5. When records are missing or precise information about a transaction is not available at the time the return must be filed, a member may prepare a tax return using a taxpayer’s estimates of the missing data.

  6. Estimated amounts should not be presented in a manner that provides a misleading impression about the degree of factual accuracy.

  7. Specific disclosure that an estimate is used for an item in the return is not generally required; however, such disclosure should be made in unusual circumstances where nondisclosure might mislead the taxing authority regarding the degree of accuracy of the return as a whole. Some examples of unusual circumstances include the following:

    1. A taxpayer has died or is ill at the time the return must be filed.

    2. A taxpayer has not received a Schedule K-1 for a pass-through entity at the time the tax return is to be filed.

    3. There is litigation pending (for example, a bankruptcy proceeding) that bears on the return.

    4. Fire, computer failure, or natural disaster has destroyed the relevant records.

Read the full standards.

The AICPA’s Statements on Standards for Tax Services (SSTSs) are enforceable tax practice standards for members of the AICPA. Additional guidance is also found in the corresponding interpretations and frequently asked questions (FAQs). Access to the complete set of SSTSs and guidance are available in the AICPA’s Statements on Standards for Tax Services Library.

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