Comprehensive Guide to Accounting for Income Taxes


The profitability and financial status of a business are impacted by income taxes, which constitute a substantial component of financial reporting. The standard compels enterprises to reflect the financial effects of income taxes in their financial statements in order to increase comparability and transparency.

income tax IAS 12

The objective of IAS 12

The primary objective of IAS 12 is to prescribe the accounting treatment for income taxes, providing a framework for recognizing and measuring current and deferred tax assets and liabilities. Businesses must reflect the financial effects of income taxes in their financial statements as required by the standard to increase comparability and transparency.

Current Tax and Deferred Tax

IAS 12 distinguishes between current tax and deferred tax. Current tax is the amount of income taxes payable or recoverable in the current reporting period, based on taxable profit or tax losses. Deferred tax, on the other hand, arises from temporary differences between the carrying amounts of assets and liabilities in the financial statements and their tax bases.

  • Timing Differences: Deferred tax is a result of temporary discrepancies that arise from the timing mismatch between the impact of transactions on taxable earnings and their reporting in financial statements.
  • Nature of items: Current tax deals with the immediate tax consequences of continuing business operations, whereas deferred tax deals with the potential future tax implications of those temporary fluctuations.
  • Financial Statement Recognition: The contemporary tax’s direct renown in the profits statement indicates how quickly it affects profitability. That being said, deferred tax is recorded if you want to ensure that economic statements accurately reflect the entity’s total financial repute once behind-schedule tax effects are taken into consideration.

Recognition of Current Tax

Current tax is recognized as an expense in the income statement in the period in which the taxable profit or tax loss occurs. It includes taxes payable on taxable income and adjustments to taxes payable from previous periods. 

DEBIT Income tax expense (income statement)

CREDIT Current tax liability (balance sheet)

Recognition of Deferred Tax

Deferred tax is recognized for temporary differences that will result in taxable or deductible amounts in future periods. The recognition of deferred tax aims to match the timing of tax effects with the timing of the underlying transactions or events. Provisions, unrealized profits or losses, and depreciation techniques are typical instances of transitory discrepancies.

Measurement of Deferred Tax:

IAS 12 emphasises the use of enacted or substantively enacted tax rates and offers a structured method for calculating deferred tax assets and liabilities. To guarantee the dependability and correctness of an entity’s financial accounting, this procedure is required.

Application of Passed or Significantly Passed Tax Rates:

Principle: The implementation of formally or substantively imposed tax rates is required under IAS 12. This guarantees that the measurement is predicated on rates that are almost a given to be enacted into law.

Stability: By lowering uncertainty in the measuring process, the use of set tax rates promotes stability and uniformity in financial reporting.

Measurement Timing:

Reporting Period Conclusion: At the end of the reporting period, the deferred tax is measured. This makes it possible to determine appropriate tax rates and transient variations as current as possible.

Accurate Reflection: By aligning with the end of the reporting period, the measurement aims to provide a precise depiction of the entity’s financial status in relation to the existing tax landscape.

Application to Temporary Discrepancies:

Procedure: The measuring entails applying the tax rates that have been legislated or substantively enacted to the short-term disparities that were present at the conclusion of the reporting period.

Temporary discrepancies: These discrepancies occur when the financial statements’ carrying values of assets and liabilities deviate from their corresponding tax bases.

Deferred tax is a topic that is consistently tested in Financial Reporting (FR) and is often tested in further detail in Strategic Business Reporting (SBR).Read more

Consideration of Settlement and Recovery:

Deferred Tax obligations: It is important to take the possibility of a settlement for deferred tax obligations into account. This means figuring out how likely it is that the short-term differences will lead to taxable amounts in the future.

Deferred Tax Assets: The evaluation also takes the likelihood of recovery into account for deferred tax assets. This entails figuring out if a sizable portion of future taxable income may be offset by the deferred tax assets.

Importance of Judgment:

Careful Evaluation: Determining the amount of deferred tax necessitates using careful judgement. Companies have to carefully consider the factors that affect the fulfilment of their responsibilities and the recovery of assets since business operations are dynamic and the economy is in flux.

Potential Impact: Good measurement judgement is essential because it controls the amounts recognized for deferred tax assets and liabilities, which in turn shapes the financial statements of the organization.

Recognition of Deferred Tax Assets

Deferred tax assets arise when deductible temporary differences exist, providing future tax benefits. However, the recognition of deferred tax assets is subject to the assessment of whether it is probable that future taxable profits will be available against which the deferred tax assets can be utilized. Prudent judgment is required in determining the likelihood of future profitability.

DEBIT Deferred tax asset (balance sheet)

CREDIT income tax expense (income statement)

Recognition of Deferred Tax Liabilities

Deferred tax liabilities arise from temporary differences that suggest an entity will face higher tax payments in the future. The acknowledgment of deferred tax liabilities is tied to the likelihood of realizing these future taxable amounts. This manner of cautious evaluation of the opportunity that future tax costs can be higher is vital to save you from overestimating those destiny tax liabilities. To guarantee a fair and correct recognition of deferred tax obligations in financial reporting, a thorough review is required.

DEBIT Income tax expense (income statement)

CREDIT Deferred tax liability (balance sheet)

Reassessment of Unrecognized Deferred Tax Assets

IAS 12 requires entities to reassess unrecognized deferred tax assets at each reporting date. If there is a change in circumstances that makes it probable that future taxable profits will be available, the previously unrecognized deferred tax assets are recognized. This makes it possible to evaluate the recoverability of deferred tax assets dynamically over time.

Debit Deferred Tax Asset (Balance Sheet)

Credit Income Tax Expense (Income Statement)

Presentation in the Financial Statements

On the balance sheet, deferred tax assets and liabilities are shown separately from current tax assets and liabilities. This purposeful division improves openness with respect to the timing of anticipated benefits and upcoming tax obligations. The designation of deferred tax amounts as current or non-current is dependent on the matching asset or obligation being classified in a different way. A clear representation of an entity’s tax positions and duties is ensured by this thorough presentation in the economic statements, which also helps stakeholders understand the nature and timing of deferred tax effects.

Offsetting of Tax Assets and Liabilities

IAS 12 states that under certain circumstances, current tax assets and liabilities as well as deferred tax assets and liabilities may be offset. Two requirements must be satisfied for this offsetting to be allowed. First, there has to be a right that can be used in court to counteract these tax arguments. Second, the entity must show that it has a clear purpose to settle on a net basis, which implies that the asset and liability will be realized and settled simultaneously. This clause makes sure that offsetting is not done arbitrarily, but rather depends on a legal foundation and the entity’s sincere desire to resolve its tax positions in a consolidated and net way. By representing the monetary content material of the entity’s tax popularity, compliance with these necessities improves the financial reporting’s correctness and dependability. 

Disclosure Requirements

Disclosure Requirements IAS 12 emphasizes full disclosure as a means of assisting financial statement users in understanding the tax situation of an organization. The disclosure requirements encompass information on the kinds and amounts of deferred tax belongings and liabilities, the motives in the back of unrecognized deferred tax belongings, and the results of changing tax fees. Certain disclosures must be made on the way to enlighten stakeholders at the nuances of an entity’s tax scenario, facilitate knowledgeable decision-making, and promote transparency.

Uncertain Tax Positions

For businesses engaged in tax compliance, there can occasionally be doubt over the interpretation and implementation of tax laws and regulations. On how to handle these ambiguous tax scenarios, IAS 12 provides guidelines. To comply with this guideline, organisations must record an obligation for uncertain tax situations unless they may reasonably be expected to maintain the position after examination by tax authorities.  It takes a rigorous examination of pertinent information and legal interpretations to decide the chance that the tax function will continue to be as it is. It provides financial reporting transparency by more precisely displaying to stakeholders the entity’s economic popularity and demonstrating the prudence required to account for any unanticipated tax conditions.

Debit Income Tax Expense (Income Statement)

Credit Provision for Uncertain Tax Positions (Balance Sheet)

Changes in Tax Rates

The complexities of tax rate changes and how they affect the estimation of deferred tax assets and liabilities are covered by IAS 12. Entities are advised to modify the carrying amounts of deferred tax assets and liabilities at the time the change in tax rates is substantively imposed whenever there is a change in tax rates.  The impact of the higher tax rate on deferred tax item valuation is taken into consideration in this adjustment. With its ability to provide information on the impact of changing the tax rate on the entity’s financial performance, the income statement facilitates the realization of this adjustment. Accuracy and relevance of financial reporting are increased when a comprehensive strategy is taken to ensure that financial statements accurately represent the consequences of the law.

Debit Deferred Tax Asset (Balance Sheet) or Deferred Tax Liability (Balance Sheet)

Credit Income Tax Expense (Income Statement)

Intragroup Transactions

Guidance on the complex accounting treatment of income taxes pertaining to intragroup transactions is provided by IAS 12. The standard specifically controls the deferred tax accounting for short-term differences resulting from business dealings between members of the same group. To do this, the timing inconsistencies in the recognition of revenue or costs for tax and accounting reasons must be carefully examined. By applying IAS 12, the consolidated financial statements are guaranteed to accurately depict the group’s tax situation, accounting for the effects of intragroup transactions on deferred tax balances. Presenting a complete and accurate image of the group’s financial status while accounting for the ways in which taxes affect the internal operations of the corporate structure is the aim of this meticulous approach.

Practical Challenges and Considerations

Although IAS 12 offers a strong foundation for income tax accounting, businesses nonetheless face real-world difficulties when putting it into practice. Uncertain tax positions, which need a careful interpretation of intricate tax regulations, are a significant barrier. Complying with tax rules is made more difficult by their intricacy, which necessitates a sophisticated comprehension of constantly changing requirements. One significant obstacle is using judgement to assess whether deferred tax assets are recoverable.  The undertaking at hand includes calculating the chance of future taxable profits, a process that necessitates an in-depth exam of marketplace dynamics, business forecasts, and potential changes to the general kingdom of the economy. A further degree of complexity is introduced by the dynamic nature of tax legislation and the changing global regulatory environment. Entities are required to stay updated on changes in tax regulations and adjust their tax accounting methods accordingly to guarantee compliance.

Impact of Tax Planning on Financial Reporting

Tax planning is a legitimate activity for entities seeking to manage their tax burden efficiently. However, it’s crucial to consider carefully how financial reporting is impacted by tax preparation. Companies must ensure that their financial statements correctly represent the economic consequences of both current and deferred income taxes.

Debit Income Tax Expense (Income Statement)

Credit Deferred Tax Asset (Balance Sheet) or Deferred Tax Liability (Balance Sheet)


IAS 12 is essential for providing firms with guidance on income tax accounting since it guarantees accuracy and openness in financial reporting. focusing on how important it is to identify and measure current and future tax assets and liabilities in a way that appropriately reflects the financial reality of a company’s tax situation. Following IAS 12 helps businesses navigate the complexities of income tax accounting and foster stakeholder trust by improving the reliability and comparability of financial statements.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: For what reason is current tax recognized on the income statement?

To guarantee that taxes due or recovered in the current reporting period are reflected immediately and to improve the accuracy of financial statements, current tax is recorded in the income statement.

Q2: How is the ambiguity in tax interpretation addressed by IAS 12?

Unless it is likely that the position will be maintained following an investigation by tax authorities, IAS 12 directs companies to record commitments for uncertain tax positions. This improves the openness of financial reporting and demonstrates careful accounting for changing tax laws.

Q3: Why is judgement involved in the assessment of deferred tax assets?

Comprehending future taxable earnings and other intricate considerations is necessary when evaluating deferred tax assets.

To precisely ascertain whether the property may be recovered, this judgement-based method requires a detailed examination of business projections, market dynamics, and economic conditions.

Written by Agha Zulfiqar bright student of Mirchawala’s Hub Of Accountancy 

Recent Blogs: