Updated July 15, 2023
Definition of LIFO Reserve
LIFO Reserve is the difference between the valuation of inventory as per the First in, first out (FIFO) method and the valuation of Inventory as per the Last in first out (LIFO) method of valuation of inventory, which is necessary for creating a balance between these two methods as both the methods are valid.
Thus it plays a critical role in presenting the fair value of inventory in the company’s financial statement.
Inventory values as per generally accepted accounting policies as per the First in, first out (FIFO) method or weighted average method, or Last in first out (LIFO) method. The organization generally adopts the FIFO method for internal valuation and the LIFO method for external valuation. Valuation of inventory as per the LIFO Method gives the tax benefit to the organization, but generally, goods are sold on a first-in, first-out basis; hence internal valuation uses the FIFO method. LIFO reserve is the difference between valuation as per FIFO and valuation as per LIFO. If the prices of goods purchased increase due to inflation and other factors, then the LIFO Reserve shows the credit balance. Investors also analyze the LIFO Reserve before investing as it is part of profit or retained earnings.
The Formula for LIFO Reserve
It is the difference between valuation as per the FIFO method and valuation as per the LIFO method. Hence the formula for calculating the LIFO Reserve is as under:
It is also called a contra inventory account as it calculates the difference between valuation as per valuation required by different laws.
How to Calculate LIFO Reserve?
There are the following steps involved in the calculation of LIFO Reserve, which is as under:
- Step 1: Calculate the Valuation of Inventory as per the normal accounting method, i.e., valuation as per the regular method adopted by the organization. It may be FIFO Method, the Weighted Average method, or the LIFO method, as all three methods are legally acceptable. If an organization uses the LIFO Method, no LIFO reserve exists. If FIFO or weighted average method uses, then we will move to step 2
- Step 2: Calculate inventory valuation per the LIFO Method, as tax rules normally suggest the LIFO Method for valuation. Another reason includes the tax benefit given by this. With the valuation as per LIFO basis, the value of inventory tends to be lower than FIFO, or weighted average, as raw material prices continuously increase due to various reasons.
- Step 3: Calculate the Difference between valuation as per FIFO basis or valuation as per weighted average basis, i.e., as per the organization’s regular method. The difference between valuation as per regular method and valuation as per LIFO basis is termed LIFO Reserve.
Example of LIFO Reserve
US Company uses the FIFO Method in Accounting. Still, for the purpose of taxation and the financial statement, it wants to adopt the LIFO Method as it reduces the valuation of inventory and increases the cost of goods sold, ultimately resulting in less profit and benefit in taxation. The Value of Inventory as per the normal method employed by the organization in accounting, i.e., as per the FIFO method, is $ 38,500, whereas the details of stock are as under:
|Units||Price / Unit||
|Opening Stock||40 units||$ 500||$ 20,000|
|Purchases||500 units||$ 550||$ 2,75,000|
Sales 470 Units
Calculate the valuation as per LIFO Method and also calculate LIFO Reserve.
Value of Stock as per LIFO Method:
470 units are first sold from purchases of 500; hence, the closing stock is 30 units from new purchases and 40 units from opening stock.
- Value of stock as per LIFO Method = (30 units * $ 550) + (40 units * $ 500)
- Value of stock as per LIFO Method = $36,500
Value of Stock as per FIFO Method:
In this case, 70 units of closing stock will value according to the rate of new purchases.
- Value of stock as per FIFO Method = 70*$550
- Value of stock as per FIFO Method = $38,500
LIFO Reserve is calculated using the formula given below
LIFO Reserve = Valuation as per FIFO Basis – Valuation as per LIFO Basis
- LIFO Reserve = $38,500 – $36,500
- LIFO Reserve = $2,000
Uses of LIFO Reserve
It is used for the following purposes:
- To offset the operating loss.
- To adjust the valuation effect of the debit balance.
- To offset the difference if a negative occurred during the change in the valuation method.
- Adjust the tax effect if the tax rises higher due to a change in valuation.
The following are advantages of LIFO Reserve:
- Used to minimize tax expenses.
- Used to offset the operating losses that occurred to the organization.
- It helps to decrease the profitability to gain.
- Used to adjust the difference in inventory valuation due to other valuation methods.
- Valuation is as per generally accepted accounting principles.
- Use to keep track of the difference between methods used for internal purposes and methods used for presentation purposes.
Following are some of the disadvantages of LIFO Reserve:
- As the track has to be maintained as per the internal method and as per the external, i.e., the LIFO method, it becomes difficult to manage.
- Creates complexity in the accounts.
- It May not be beneficial to the organization as it decreases investors’ interest due to decreased profitability.
- The load on the accounting staff is increased.
- The process involved in calculation is lengthy and time-consuming.
- Calculating the value per the LIFO method is difficult as lots of effort and concentration are required. There are also chances of errors due to manual intervention as the value as per LIFO cannot be calculated by the system properly.
The business organization uses different methods for evaluating inventory but for presentation purposes. It wants to adopt the method that gives the tax benefit. This LIFO method proves to be beneficial in giving tax benefits. Hence, the organization may use FIFO or weighted average accounting and LIFO methods for presentation. It is nothing but the difference between valuation per the organization’s regular methods and valuation per the LIFO method. Generally, the LIFO reserve has the credit balance as the price of goods increases continuously due to inflation and various other reasons, and due to valuation as per LIFO, the last purchased, i.e., the high-priced stock is sold, and hence the valuation of inventory reduced which led to lower profits and taxation. It is used to offset the operating losses, the difference due to inventory valuation, etc. Still, the process involved in calculating LIFO Reserve is very lengthy and time-consuming.
This is a guide to LIFO Reserve. Here we also discuss the definition and how to calculate LIFO reserve. Along with advantages and disadvantages. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –