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Bills to reform section 444 fiscal year rules introduced.

Companion bills were introduced in the House (HR 3943) and in the Senate (S 2109) to modify the requirement that partnerships, S corporations and personal service corporations adopt a calendar year for tax purposes.

In presenting the legislation, Congressman Beryl Anthony, Jr. (D-Ark.) and Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) both described how the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (TRA) had imposed the calendar year requirement. As a result of public outcry concerning the difficulties created by the requirement, the Revenue Act of 1987 modified the TRA with the creation of section 444---which allowed retention or adoption of a fiscal year by partnerships, S corporations and personal service corporations if certain annual requirements were met.

However, Anthony argued that the rules are still overly restrictive and that "on average, only about 20% of small businesses on a fiscal year before TRA 1986 remain on a section 444 fiscal year."

Baucus said, "This work load compression problem is not limited to tax work. It has become an even greater problem with accounting and auditing work. Owners and creditors typically demand financial statements and audit reports within 90 days after yearend. Now this work also must be done between January 1 and April 15."

The increased complexity, according to both Anthony and Baucus, has resulted in more time devoted by taxpayers and their advisers to both planning and preparation of individual and small business returns.

The proposed legislation would reopen the election process to allow existing entities to either elect, reelect or modify an existing election for a fiscal year.

An additional required payment to the government during the transition period to a different fiscal year would be imposed. In addition, no restriction would be imposed on the length of the deferral period. Entities would be allowed to elect a fiscal year that ends in any month.

The legislation also would make minor technical corrections and administrative changes, resulting in a provision that is fairer and more administrable.
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Author:Wagenbrenner, Anne
Publication:Journal of Accountancy
Date:Feb 1, 1992
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