LIFO Pronunciation in English


Higher taxes from FIFO valuation diminish a company’s cash flows and growth opportunities. When sales are recorded using the FIFO method, the oldest inventory–that was acquired first–is used up first. FIFO leaves the newer, more expensive inventory in a rising-price environment, on the balance sheet. As a result, FIFO can increase net income because inventory that might be several years old–which was acquired for a lower cost–is used to value COGS. However, the higher net income means the company would have a higher tax liability.

For example, the seafood company, mentioned earlier, would use their oldest inventory first in selling and shipping their products. Since the seafood company would never leave older inventory in stock to spoil, FIFO accurately reflects the company’s process of using the oldest inventory first in selling their goods.

Impact of LIFO Inventory Valuation Method on Financial Statements

In general, for companies trying to better match their sales with the actual movement of product, FIFO might be a better way to depict the movement of inventory. When sales are recorded using the LIFO method, the most recent items of inventory are used to value COGS and are sold first.

In total, the cost of the widgets under the LIFO method is $1,200, or five at $200 and two at $100. In contrast, using FIFO, the $100 widgets are sold first, followed by the $200 widgets.

Last In, First Out (LIFO) Definition: The Inventory Cost Method Explained

Other methods to account for inventory include first in, first out and the average cost method. Traders who use the LIFO method of accounting calculate capital gains on the difference between the price of the sale and the most recent buy price.


If the cost of your products increases over time, the LIFO method can help you save on taxes. This is because applying the most recent or higher inventory costs to the items you’ve sold will cause your profit margin to go down.

LIFO vs. FIFO: Net Income Impact Examples

Accounting PeriodAccounting Period refers to the period in which all financial transactions are recorded and financial statements are prepared. Both these methods are pure methods of accounting for and reporting inventory value. Whichever method is adopted, it does not govern the addition or removal of inventory from the stock for further processing or selling. Since inventory costs have increased in recent times, LIFO shows higher COGS and lower net income – whereas COGS is lower under FIFO, so net income is higher. With that said, if inventory costs have increased, the COGS for the current period are higher under LIFO. FIFO and LIFO are two methods of accounting for inventory purchases, or more specifically, for estimating the value of inventory sold in a given period.

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Since income tax deferral is the only justification for LIFO in most situations, it is banned under international financial reporting standards . To be eligible to use LIFO for tax purposes, there is a book conformity requirement. The book conformity rule provides that the LIFO method of accounting for inventory must be used for financial reporting purposes for it to be adopted for tax purposes. If inflation were nonexistent, then all three of the inventory valuation methods would produce the same exact results. When prices are stable, our bakery example from earlier would be able to produce all of its bread loaves at $1, and LIFO, FIFO, and average cost would give us a cost of $1 per loaf. However, in the real world, prices tend to rise over the long term, which means that the choice of accounting method can affect the inventory valuation and profitability for the period. Last-in First-out is an inventory valuation method based on the assumption that assets produced or acquired last are the first to be expensed.

For accounting purposes, it appears that Company X has the older, earlier purchased product in inventory and not the newer, more expensive product. This makes LIFO a more advantageous method, particularly as prices rise, because it places a lower value on remaining inventory which equals a higher Cost of Goods Sold. That can have a direct effect on reducing a company’s taxable income and the amount of tax owed for the year. Inventory valuation can be tedious if done by hand, though it’s essentially automated with the right POS system. Although picking which method to use may seem trivial, the subtle differences between FIFO and LIFO inventory management can add up to thousands of dollars of tax savings each year. FIFO is most successful in industries where a product’s price remains steady and the company sells its oldest products first. That’s because FIFO is based on the cost of the first goods purchased, ignoring any increases or reductions in price for newer units.

  • On the other hand, a company that uses the FIFO method will be reporting a higher net income and hence will have a greater amount of tax liability in the near term.
  • FIFO differs in that it leads to a higher closing inventory and a smaller COGS.
  • Outside of the U.S., only FIFO is permitted under IFRS, so FIFO tends to be the prevalent inventory valuation method for international companies.
  • This process ensures that older products are sold before they perish or become obsolete, thereby avoiding lost profit.
  • LIFO is not recommended if you have perishable products, since they may expire on the shelf before they are sold or shipped.
  • Conversely, if inflation is negative, the impact of LIFO and FIFO will be reversed as described above.