7 Innovative Inventory Management Techniques: FIFO, FEFO, LIFO Explained

For tax purposes, FIFO assumes that assets with the oldest costs are included in the income statement’s cost of goods sold (COGS). The remaining inventory assets are matched to the assets that are most recently purchased or produced. Inventory management is a crucial function for any product-oriented business.

Assuming that prices are rising, this means that inventory levels are going to be highest as the most recent goods (often the most expensive) are being kept in inventory. This also means that the earliest goods (often the least expensive) are reported under the cost of goods sold. Because the expenses are https://1investing.in/ usually lower under the FIFO method, net income is higher, resulting in a potentially higher tax liability. For this reason, companies must be especially mindful of the bookkeeping under the LIFO method as once early inventory is booked, it may remain on the books untouched for long periods of time.

FIFO stands for “first in, first out” and assumes the first items entered into your inventory are the first ones you sell. LIFO, also known as “last in, first out,” assumes the most recent items entered into your inventory will be the ones to sell first. The inventory valuation method you choose will depend on your tax situation, inventory flow and record keeping requirements.

  • It was designed so that all businesses have the same set of rules to follow.
  • In sum, using the LIFO method generally results in a higher cost of goods sold and smaller net profit on the balance sheet.
  • This does mean a company using the FIFO method could be offloading more recently acquired inventory first, or vice-versa with LIFO.
  • That only occurs when inflation is a factor, but governments still don’t like it.

Check with your CPA to determine which regulations apply to your business. It is the actual amount of products that are available for sale at the end of an auditing period. If you have a look at the cost of COGS  in LIFO, it is more than COGS in FIFO because the order in which the units have been consumed is not the same. In this example as well, we needed to determine the COGS of 250 units.

In most cases, LIFO will result in lower closing inventory and a larger COGS. FIFO differs in that it leads to a higher closing inventory and a smaller COGS. LIFO is more popular among businesses with large inventories so that they can reap the benefits of higher cash flows and lower taxes when prices are rising. Under FIFO, it’s assumed that the inventory that is the oldest is being sold first. FIFO gives a lower-cost inventory because of inflation; lower-cost items are usually older.

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Second, the number of layers to track can be substantially larger than would be the case under FIFO. Third, if old layers are accessed, costs may be charged to expense that vary substantially from current costs. LIFO is banned under the International Financial Reporting Standards that are used by most of the world because it minimizes taxable income. That only occurs when inflation is a factor, but governments still don’t like it. In addition, there is the risk that the earnings of a company that is being liquidated can be artificially inflated by the use of LIFO accounting in previous years. Most companies that use LIFO inventory valuations need to maintain large inventories, such as retailers and auto dealerships.

  • Using LIFO, if the last units of inventory bought were purchased at higher prices, the higher-priced units are sold first, with the lower-priced, older units remaining in inventory.
  • LIFO usually doesn’t match the physical movement of inventory, as companies may be more likely to try to move older inventory first.
  • A higher COGS figure would result in a lower gross profit figure and lower taxes.

Accountants use “inventoriable costs” to define all expenses required to obtain inventory and prepare the items for sale. For retailers and wholesalers, the largest inventoriable cost is the purchase cost. We’ll calculate the cost of goods sold balance and ending inventory, starting with the FIFO method. FIFO and LIFO are cost layering methods used to value the cost of goods sold and ending inventory. FIFO is a contraction of the term « first in, first out, » and means that the goods first added to inventory are assumed to be the first goods removed from inventory for sale.

Is LIFO Allowed Under GAAP?

We will again focus on periodic LIFO for this and the following formulas. According to Ng, much of the process is the same as it is for FIFO, including this basic formula. She noted that the differences come when you’re determining which goods you’re going to say you sold.

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The value of inventory shown on the balance sheet will be lower since $2.35 rather than $2.50 is used to calculate the value of ending inventory. Net income will be higher, using the FIFO method of accounting inventory, and the cost of goods sold will be lower since the lower price will be used to calculate that figure. The company’s tax liability will be higher due to higher net income and lower cost of goods sold. The value of inventory shown on the balance sheet will be higher since $2.50 rather than $2.35 is used to calculate the value of ending inventory. The first in, first out (FIFO) cost method assumes that the oldest inventory items are sold first, while the last in, first out method (LIFO) states that the newest items are sold first. The inventory valuation method that you choose affects cost of goods sold, sales, and profits.


As we explained in the previous section, the LIFO method’s primary advantage is that it allows firms to lower their profits in an inflationary situation. In most businesses, the actual flow of materials follows FIFO, which makes this a logical choice. In contrast, using the FIFO method, the $100 widgets are sold first, followed by the $200 widgets. So, the cost of the widgets sold will be recorded as $900, or five at $100 and two at $200. The U.S. accounting standards organization, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB), in its Generally Accepted Accounting Procedures, allows both FIFO and LIFO accounting. Inventory is where many companies have the majority of their funds invested.

These costs are typically higher than what it cost previously to produce or acquire older inventory. If profits are naturally high under FIFO, then the company becomes that much more attractive to investors. The methods are not actually linked to the tracking of physical inventory, just inventory totals. This does mean a company using the FIFO method could be offloading more recently acquired inventory first, or vice-versa with LIFO. However, in order for the cost of goods sold (COGS) calculation to work, both methods have to assume inventory is being sold in their intended orders.

Which Is Better, LIFO or FIFO?

To calculate COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) using the FIFO method, determine the cost of your oldest inventory. Companies with perishable goods or items heavily subject to obsolescence are more likely to use LIFO. Logistically, that grocery store is more likely to try to sell slightly older bananas as opposed to the most recently delivered. Should the company sell the most recent perishable good it receives, the oldest inventory items will likely go bad. The average cost method produces results that fall somewhere between FIFO and LIFO. The average inventory method usually lands between the LIFO and FIFO method.

Companies within the U.S. have greater flexibility on the method they may choose and can opt for either LIFO or FIFO. Consider a dealership that pays $20,000 for a 2015 model car during spring and $23,000 for the same during fall. In December, the dealership sells one of these automobiles for $26,000.

So, which inventory figure a company starts with when valuing its inventory really does matter. And companies are required by law to state which accounting method they used in their published financials. Since LIFO uses the most recently acquired inventory to value COGS, the leftover inventory might be extremely old or obsolete. As a result, LIFO doesn’t provide an accurate or up-to-date value of inventory because the valuation is much lower than inventory items at today’s prices.

LIFO method

Higher costs to a business mean a lower net income, which results in lower taxes. To calculate the profit a company produces, it must track sales revenue as well as the costs involved in producing its products. Though there are financial implications of their decision, some companies may choose a method that mirrors their inventory (i.e. a grocer often sells their oldest inventory first).

With this remaining inventory of 140 units, let’s say the company sells an additional 50 items. The cost of goods sold for 40 of these items is $10, and the entire first order of 100 units has been fully sold. The other 10 units that are sold have a cost of $15 each, and the remaining 90 units in inventory are valued at $15 each (the most recent price paid). In addition to FIFO and LIFO, which are historically the two most standard inventory valuation methods because of their relative simplicity, there are other methods. The most common alternative to LIFO and FIFO is dollar-cost averaging. With FIFO, the cost of inventory reported on the balance sheet represents the cost of the inventory most recently purchased.