General Instructions

Future Developments

For the latest information about developments related to Form 3115 and its instructions, such as legislation enacted after they were published, go to www.irs.gov/form3115.

What's New

Change of filing address.   
  • Beginning in January 2016, the copy of Form 3115 for automatic change requests should be sent to the Covington, Kentucky Service Center. See the address chart on page 2.

    • Exempt organizations file at the same address as other filers of Form 3115. See the address chart on page 2.

Purpose of Form

File Form 3115 to request a change in either an overall method of accounting or the accounting treatment of any item.

Method Change Procedures

When filing Form 3115, you must determine if the IRS has issued any new published guidance which includes revenue procedures, revenue rulings, notices, regulations, or other relevant guidance in the Internal Revenue Bulletin. For the latest information, visit www.irs.gov.

For general application procedures on requesting accounting method changes, see Rev. Proc. 2015-13. Rev. Proc. 2015-13 provides procedures for both automatic and non-automatic changes in method of accounting.

Automatic change procedures.   Unless otherwise provided in published guidance, you must file under the automatic change procedures if you are eligible to request consent to make a change in your method of accounting under the automatic change procedures for the requested year of change. See the instructions for Part I later, and the List of Automatic Changes.

  A Form 3115 filed under these procedures may be reviewed by the IRS. If it is, you will be notified if information in addition to that requested on Form 3115 is required or if your request is denied. No user fee is required. An applicant that timely files and complies with the automatic change procedures is granted consent to change its accounting method, subject to review by the IRS National Office and operating division director.

Ordinarily, you are required to file a separate Form 3115 for each change in method of accounting. However, in some cases you are required or permitted to file a single Form 3115 for particular concurrent changes in method of accounting. See section 6.03(1)(b) of Rev. Proc. 2015-13 for more information.

Reduced filing requirement.   A qualified small taxpayer qualifies for a reduced Form 3115 filing requirement for certain automatic accounting method changes (for example, a change under section 6.01 of Rev. Proc. 2015-14 (DCN7)). DCN stands for “Designated automatic accounting method change”. A qualified small taxpayer is a taxpayer with average annual gross receipts of less than or equal to $10 million for the three taxable years preceding the year of change. See Year of Change, later. For qualifying changes and filing requirements, see the List of Automatic Changes.

Non-automatic change procedures.   If you do not qualify to file under the automatic change procedures for the requested change in method of accounting for the requested year of change, you may be able to file under the non-automatic change procedures. See Non-automatic change—Scope and Eligibility Rules, in Part III, later. If the requested change is approved by the IRS National Office, the filer will receive a letter ruling on the requested change. File a separate Form 3115 for each unrelated item or submethod. A user fee is required. See the instructions for Part III, later, for more information.

Filing exception for certain first-year tangible property changes.   A small business taxpayer may make certain tangible property changes in method of accounting for its first taxable year beginning on or after January 1, 2014 without filing a Form 3115. Under these special procedures, the change in method of accounting is effectively made on a cut-off basis. These special method change procedures apply to small business taxpayers making certain method changes to comply with Regulations sections 1.263(a)-3 and 1.168(i)-8. A small business taxpayer is a business with total assets of less than $10 million or average annual gross receipts of less than or equal to $10 million for the prior three taxable years. For more details about eligibility and these special method change procedures, see Rev. Proc. 2015-20, 2015-9 I.R.B. 694.

Who Must File

The filer is the entity or person required to file Form 3115, whether on its own behalf or on behalf of another entity. An applicant is an entity, a person, or a separate and distinct trade or business of an entity or a person (for purposes of Regulations section 1.446-1(d)), whose method of accounting is being changed.

For a consolidated group of corporations, the common parent corporation must file Form 3115 for a change in method of accounting for itself and for any member of the consolidated group. For example, the common parent corporation of a consolidated group is the filer when requesting a change in method of accounting for another member of that consolidated group (or a separate and distinct trade or business of that member), and the other member (or trade or business) on whose behalf Form 3115 is filed is the applicant.

For information on the difference between a filer and an applicant, see the Name(s) and Signature(s) section, later.

For a Controlled Foreign Corporation (CFC) or 10/50 corporation without a U.S. trade or business, see section 6.02(6) of Rev. Proc. 2015-13.

Generally, a filer must file a separate Form 3115 for each applicant seeking consent to change a method of accounting. A separate Form 3115 and user fee (for non-automatic change requests) must be submitted for each applicant and each separate trade or business of an applicant, including a qualified subchapter S subsidiary (QSub) or a single-member limited liability company (LLC), requesting a change in method of accounting. See section 9.02 of Rev. Proc. 2016-1.

However, identical changes in methods of accounting for two or more of the following in any combination may be included in a single Form 3115:

  1. Members of a consolidated group;

  2. Separate and distinct trades or businesses (for purposes of Regulations section 1.446-1(d)) of that entity or member(s) of a consolidated group. Separate and distinct trades or businesses include QSubs and single-member LLCs;

  3. Partnerships that are wholly-owned within a consolidated group; and

  4. CFCs and 10/50 corporations that do not engage in a trade or business within the United States where (i) all controlling domestic shareholders (as provided in Regulations section 1.964-1(c)(5)) of the CFCs and of the 10/50 corporations, as applicable, are members of the consolidated group; or (ii) the taxpayer is the sole controlling domestic shareholder of the CFCs or of the 10/50 corporations.

For information on what is an identical change in method of accounting, see section 15.07(4) of Rev. Proc. 2016-1.

When and Where To File

Automatic change requests.   Except if instructed differently, you must file Form 3115 under the automatic change procedures in duplicate as follows.
  • Attach the original Form 3115 to the filer's timely filed (including extensions) federal income tax return for the year of change. The original Form 3115 attachment does not need to be signed.

  • File a copy of the signed Form 3115 to the address provided in the address chart on this page, no earlier than the first day of the year of change and no later than the date the original is filed with the federal income tax return for the year of change. This signed Form 3115 may be a photocopy. For more on the signature requirement, see the Name(s) and Signature(s) section, later.

  The IRS does not send acknowledgements of receipt for automatic change requests.

  
For filing procedures relating to automatic change requests for certain foreign corporations and foreign partnerships, see section 6.03(1)(a)(ii) and (iii) of Rev. Proc. 2015-13.

Non-automatic change requests.   You must file Form 3115 under the non-automatic change procedures during the tax year for which the change is requested, unless otherwise provided by published guidance. See section 6.03(2) of Rev. Proc. 2015-13. File Form 3115 with the IRS National Office at the address listed in the Address Chart. File Form 3115 as early as possible during the year of change to provide adequate time for the IRS to respond prior to the due date of the filer's return for the year of change.

The IRS normally sends an acknowledgment of receipt within 60 days after receiving a Form 3115 filed under the non-automatic change procedures. If the filer does not receive an acknowledgment of receipt for an advance request within 60 days, the filer can inquire to:

Internal Revenue Service 
Control Clerk 
CC:IT&A, Room 4512 
1111 Constitution Ave., NW 
Washington, DC 20224

In specified circumstances, you are required to send additional copies of Form 3115 to another IRS address. For example, another copy of Form 3115 would be sent, when an applicant is under examination, before an Appeals office, before a federal court, or is a certain foreign corporation or certain foreign partnership. See section 6.03(3) of Rev. Proc. 2015-13 for more information. See also Part II, lines 6 and 8, later.

Address Chart for Form 3115

File Form 3115 at the applicable IRS address listed below.

  A non-automatic change request An automatic change request (Form 3115 copy)
Delivery by mail Internal Revenue Service 
Attn: CC:PA:LPD:DRU 
P.O. Box 7604 
Benjamin Franklin Station 
Washington, DC 20044
Internal Revenue Service 
201 West Rivercenter Blvd. 
PIN Team Mail Stop 97 
Covington, KY 41011-1424
Delivery by private delivery service Internal Revenue Service 
Attn: CC:PA:LPD:DRU 
Room 5336  
1111 Constitution Ave., NW 
Washington, DC 20224
Internal Revenue Service 
201 West Rivercenter Blvd. 
PIN Team Mail Stop 97 
Covington, KY 41011-1424

Late Application

In general, a filer that fails to timely file a Form 3115 will not be granted an extension of time to file except in unusual and compelling circumstances. See section 6.03(4)(b) of Rev. Proc. 2015-13 and the Regulations section 301.9100-3 for the standards that must be met. For information on the period of limitations, see section 5.03(2) of Rev. Proc. 2016-1.

However, an automatic 6-month extension from the due date (excluding any extension) of the federal income tax return to file Form 3115 may be available for automatic change requests. For details, see section 6.03(4)(a) of Rev. Proc. 2015-13 and Regulations section 301.9100-2.

An applicant submitting a ruling request for an extension of time to file Form 3115 must pay a user fee for its extension request and, in the case of a non-automatic change request, also a separate user fee for its accounting method change request. For the schedule of user fees, see (A)(3)(b), (A)(4), and (A)(5)(d) in Appendix A of Rev. Proc. 2016-1.

Useful Items

You can refer to these items for more information on changing a method of accounting.

Revenue Procedures (Rev. Proc.)

Rev. Proc. 2016-1.   See Rev. Proc. 2016-1. This Rev. Proc. provides specific and additional procedures for requesting a change in method of accounting.

Rev. Proc. 2015-13.   See Rev. Proc. 2015-13. This Rev. Proc. provides the automatic and non-automatic method change procedures to obtain consent of the Commissioner to change a method of accounting.

Rev. Proc. 2015-14.   See Rev. Proc. 2015-14. This Rev. Proc. contains a list of accounting method changes that may be eligible to file under the automatic method change procedures.

Rev. Proc. 2015-20.   See Rev. Proc. 2015-20. This Rev. Proc. allows an eligible small business taxpayer to make certain tangible property changes without filing Form 3115.

Other Item

Pub. 538, Accounting Periods and Methods.   See Pub. 538, Accounting Periods and Methods. This publication provides general information on accounting methods.


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