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Accounting Methods for Long-Term Contracts: Completed Contract Method, Percentage of Completion Method

completed contract method formula

When using the percentage of completion method, it’s important for contractors to revise their estimates anytime changes occur on the job. This ensures the accuracy of their accounting calculations, and helps to avoid cash flow challenges. The percentage of completion method is an internal accounting process that can differ from the reality on the jobsite. This completed contract method formula can present challenges when the revenue and expenses recognized are different from the actual amounts billed or spent on the project. This can create cash flow problems for the contractor if they aren’t careful. While guidance for revenue recognition may have changed in recent years, contractors will find much from the completed contract method alive and well.

  • By deferring the recognition of revenue and expenses until the end of the project, the company might put itself at risk of higher tax liabilities.
  • Conversely, under the completed contract method, the company would not record any revenue or expenses on its income statement until the end of the project.
  • Construction companies have to make difficult choices among many financial alternatives, like bidding on one project over another, selecting financing for materials or equipment, or setting a project’s profit margin….
  • For example, a project that has estimated costs of $100,000 has incurred $50,000 in costs so far.
  • Our connected global construction platform unites all stakeholders on a project with unlimited access to support and a business model designed for the construction industry.

This income is recognized on the income statement through the work in progress report. In contrast with percentage of completion, the completed contract method is used to recognize project revenue and costs only when the contract is complete. The completed contract method is usually used in the residential sector and on small projects of short duration. The percentage of completion method must be used if the revenues and costs of a project can be reasonably estimated and the parties involved are expected to be able to complete all duties.

Change proposed to the way Ohio taxes businesses and business owners

This is because instead of looking at contract completion, ASC 606 looks at the completion of performance obligations. To illustrate the completed contract method, the example below shows a construction project using both the percentage of completion and completed contract methods. As an additional bonus, this method eliminates the problem of estimating errors that can occur using the percentage of completion as a guidepost.

In addition, under the completed contract method, there is no need to estimate costs to complete a project – all costs are known at the completion of the project. Therefore, during construction progress, Jones Realty doesn’t gain anything from the work done. Under the contract, they pay Build-It periodically for progress completed, but there’s no transfer of control yet. Accordingly, as with the completed contract method, Build-It holds the value of their billings on their balance sheet before they can recognize it on their income statement.


The completed contract accounting method is frequently used in the construction industry or other sectors that involve project-based contracts. The company will report its revenue of $1 million to recognize the two payments for $500,000 that the customer made at the end of the six-month and one-year milestones. An applicable taxpayer can still automatically elect to change its method of accounting in 2019, for tax year 2018, using Form 3115, if filed by the due date, including extensions, of the 2018 entity tax return. The amount of interest due from, or payable to, a taxpayer as a result of applying the lookback method is computed and reported on Form 8697, Interest Computation Under the Look-Back Method for Completed Long-Term Contracts, for the filing year. The lookback method generally spans more than one year, and the interest owed (or to be received) is netted for the filing year.

In addition to the completed contract method, another way to recognize revenue for a long-term contract is the percentage of completion method. The two revenue recognition methods are commonly seen in construction companies, engineering companies, and other businesses that mainly generate revenue on long-term contracts for projects. Taxable income from a long-term contract is determined under the percentage-of-completion method (Sec. 460(a)). Using the completed contract method, the taxpayer does not recognize revenue until the contract is completed and accepted by the customer. Except for home construction contracts, CCM can only be used by small contractors for contracts with an estimated life that does not exceed 2 years. There should be no terms in the contract with the only purpose of deferring tax.

Percentage of Completion vs. Completed Contract: What’s the difference?

You can observe from the above reading that the disadvantages of this method are more than the advantages. Thus, if you want a better picture of the contract status, the percentage completion method of accounting is upheld in all accounting standards, tax laws, etc. Despite some pitfalls, cash basis and completed contract can be a significant tax deferral and cash flow strategy for the small contractor.

In the contract, the organization has given an offer of $5 million that is willing to pay ABC once they complete the project. So, since XYX was able to complete the project successfully, the revenue that John will recognize in this case is $5 million, including the constructions actual cost of $4.5 million. Note that if in this contract the percentage of the completed method was the one being used, the company would have been forced to make some adjustments to entries to rectify the extended month and the extra costs.

What is the percentage of completion method?

Although the cash method might be straightforward, it can delay recording revenue and expenses until the money is earned or paid out. The completed contract method defers all revenue and expense recognition until the contract is completed. The method is used when there is unpredictability in the collection of funds from the customer.

The net interest owed is included on the taxpayer’s return for that year, with Form 8697 attached to the return. Corporations (other than S corporations) may deduct this amount as interest expense. Net interest to be received is filed on Form 8697 separately from the return of the filing year. These adjustments ensure that the income shown on the income statement is reflective of the percentage of completion method.

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