What Makes a Good LIFO Candidate?

What Makes a Good LIFO Candidate?

Expand the accordion tabs below to learn how to easily identify the best LIFO candidates!

  • Who Should Use the LIFO Method

    LIFOPro has developed a proprietary scoring system to identify good LIFO candidates & provide LIFO election recommendations, which requires for the following criteria to be met:

    • Historical Inflation Frequency: Inflation in 11 or more of the last 20 years (determined by assigning BLS CPI/PPI categories to current period’s product mix & performing 20Y pro forma IPIC LIFO calculation). Best LIFO candidates have high inflation frequency & low likelihood of deflation/LIFO recapture
    • Historical Average Annual Inflation Rate: Must be ≥ 1%. Best LIFO candidates have historical average annual inflation rates of well above 1%.
    • At least $2M – $5M of inventory: Is more subjective because this amount is dependent on the following:
      • Historical average annual inflation rate: Higher the rate, lower the minimum inventory balance & vice versa
      • LIFO election year inflation rate: Same as historical average annual inflation rate
      • Company’s tax rate & perceived benefit of tax deferral/savings from LIFO

    In the event that the following criteria listed above is met, a current year LIFO election recommendation is made if the current year inflation rate in the potential election year is greater than or equal to the historical average annual inflation rate calculated by LIFOPro


    To recap, the following criteria should be met to make a LIFO election for your company’s upcoming year end:

    1. Historical average annual inflation rate is greater than or equal to 1%
    2. Consistent inflation (11 or more of the past 20 years)
    3. At least $1-5 million in inventory & profits will be reported on tax return before applying LIFO reserve
    4. Election year inflation is estimated to or will be greater than or equal to the historical average annual inflation rate

    For companies with inflationary inventories, LIFO acts like an annuity that provides annual returns, and the long-term benefits can be substantial. Choosing the right time to start using LIFO will allow you to maximize the tax benefits that it provides.

  • When to elect LIFO
    • Electing LIFO in a year where the inflation is greater than or equal to historical averages is important because it ensures the year one LIFO benefits will justify or more than offset the implementation costs
    • Electing in a above-average or record high inflation period ensures the year one LIFO reserve will be much larger than the sum of any future LIFO recapture (taxable income) that could occur during deflationary periods. In other words, electing LIFO in a year where the inflation & tax benefits from LIFO is many times higher than the historical one year average allows you to obtain what would normally take multiple years to accrue, and as a result, electing LIFO during such a period ensures that LIFO will always provide a net favorable tax position even if deflation & partial LIFO recapture occurs in the future.
    • A Five year LIFO reserve comparison example shown below illustrates differential between electing in a high vs. average inflation period

    Five Year LIFO Reserve Comparisons: Electing in a High-Inflation vs. Average Inflation Period

    High Inflation Period – 10% inflation in election year (2022)

    Average Inflation Period – 2% inflation in election year (2023)

  • Would LIFO Benefit my Company or Client?

    LIFO-PRO recommends using the following two-step approach to determine the potential benefits of LIFO for your company:

    1. Preliminary analysis – Utilize the Good LIFO Candidates Lists shown below to determine if your company or client the meet the three criteria listed in the Who Should Use the LIFO Method section above.
    2. Full analysis – Obtain a complimentary LIFO Election Benefit Analysis from LIFO-PRO. Analysis includes a final recommendation regarding if LIFO should be used or not & the reasons why.

    Quick Analysis LIFO Tax Savings Formula

    Use the following formulas to calculate the estimated LIFO tax savings that a company could achieve in the year of the LIFO election:

    • Current year taxable income reduction (LIFO expense) = Prior year end inventory balance at cost * Current year inflation rate
    • Current year tax liability reduction (after-tax cash savings) = Current year LIFO expense * combined federal & state tax rate

    Example: To illustrate the use of the Quick Analysis LIFO Tax Savings Formula, assume the following:
    Prior year end inventory balance at cost: $10M
    Estimated current year inflation rate: 10%
    Combined Federal/State Tax rate: 35%
    Current year LIFO expense: $10M * 10% = $1M
    Current year income tax reduction: $1M * 35% = $350K

  • Publicly Traded Companies on LIFO by Primary Business Activities or Product Types
    Business or Industry Type Count Business or Industry Type Count
    Machinery Manufacturing 40 Beverage and Tobacco Product Manufacturing 7
    Merchant Wholesalers, Durable Goods 29 Wood Product Manufacturing 7
    Chemical Manufacturing 27 Electrical Equip., Appliance & Component Mfg. 7
    Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing 26 Textile & Textile Product Mills 7
    Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing 23 Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing 6
    Food Manufacturing 21 Printing and Related Support Activities 6
    Transportation Equipment Manufacturing 18 Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores 6
    Merchant Wholesalers, Nondurable Goods 17 Publishing Industries (except Internet) 6
    Paper Manufacturing 16 Steel Pipe And Tubes 5
    Primary Metal Manufacturing 13 Leather and Allied Product Manufacturing 4
    Miscellaneous Retailers 13 Mining (except Oil and Gas) 4
    Food and Beverage Stores 12 Miscellaneous Manufacturing 4
    General Merchandise Stores 10 Apparel Manufacturing 4
    Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealers 9 Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing 3
    Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing 8 Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores 3
    Computer and Electronic Product Manufacturing 8 Health and Personal Care Stores 3
  • LIFO-PRO Clientele by Business Activity or Product Type
    Primary Business Activity or Product Primary Business Activity or Product
    Auto and Home Supply Stores Industrial Supplies
    Beer and Ale Industrial Trucks, Tractors, Trailers & Stackers
    Beverage and Tobacco Product Manufacturing Industrial Valves
    Bolts, Nuts, Screws, Rivets & Washers Laboratory Apparatus and Furniture
    Building Material and Garden Equipment and Supplies Dealers Lighting Equipment
    Chemical Manufacturing Lumber and Other Building Materials Dealers
    Department Stores Machinery Manufacturing
    Drugs, Drug Proprietaries & Druggists’ Sundries Metals Service Centers
    Durable and Non-Durable Goods Wholesalers Construction Machinery & Heavy Duty Equipment
    Electrical Machinery, Equipment & Supplies Navigation, Measuring, Medical & Control Instruments
    Electrical Machinery, Equipment, Appliance & Component Mfg. Nonmetallic Mineral Product Manufacturing
    Fabricated Metal Product Manufacturing Paper Manufacturing
    Fabricated Pipe and Pipe Fittings Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
    Fabricated Plate Work (Boiler Shops) Plastics and Rubber Products Manufacturing
    Fabricated Structural Metal Plastics Foam Products
    Farm and Garden Machinery and Equipment Plastics Material Synthetic Resins & Nonvulcanizable Elastomers
    Farm Supplies Plastics Materials and Basic Forms and Shapes
    Food and Beverage Stores Plumbing and Heating Equipment and Supplies (Hydronics)
    Food Manufacturing Power, Distribution & Specialty Transformers
    Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores Primary Metal Manufacturing
    Furniture and Related Product Manufacturing Publishing Industries (except Internet)
    Gaskets, Packing & Sealing Devices Pumps and Pumping Equipment
    Gasoline Stations Recreational Vehicle Dealers
    General Industrial Machinery and Equipment Steel Works, Blast Furnaces (Inc. Coke Ovens) & Rolling Mills
    General Merchandise Stores Tobacco and Tobacco Products
    Hand and Edge Tools, Except Machine Tools and Handsaws Transportation Equipment Manufacturing
    Hardware Stores Variety Stores
    Health and Personal Care Stores Warm Air Heating and Air-Conditioning Equipment and Supplies
    Industrial & Commercial Fans & Blowers & Air Purification Equipment Wines, Brandy & Brandy Spirits
    Industrial Machinery and Equipment Wood Product Manufacturing
  • LIFOPro's Top LIFO Candidates by Bureau of Labor Statistics Producer Price Index Commodity
    BLS PPI CodeBLS PPI Commodity Description9M Ended Sep. '22 (YTD)12M Ended Sep. '2212M Ended Dec. '2112M Ended Dec. '203 Year Annual Avg.5 Year Annual Avg.10 Year Annual Avg.20 Year Annual Avg.Inflation Freq-uencyInfl-ation Freq. RateYTD vs. 20Y Average Multiplier
    02Processed foods & feeds10.2%9.7%10.4%2.0%4.9%3.2%1.7%2.8%17 of 2085%3.6
    021Cereal & bakery products12.9%15.6%9.2%0.1%3.2%2.7%1.5%2.8%16 of 2080%4.6
    022Meats, poultry & fish3.8%-2.3%20.0%2.7%9.2%4.8%2.7%3.3%14 of 2070%1.2
    023Dairy products13.2%18.0%7.6%-3.0%4.0%1.9%1.0%2.2%11 of 2055%6.0
    024Processed fruits & vegetables14.3%16.3%4.5%3.8%2.4%2.4%1.7%2.7%17 of 2085%5.2
    025Sugar & confectionery8.6%9.4%3.1%-1.4%1.7%1.2%0.5%2.6%16 of 2080%3.3
    026Beverages & beverage materials8.6%10.4%3.3%2.1%2.3%1.9%1.4%2.1%20 of 20100%4.1
    027Fats & oils10.5%11.8%42.5%10.8%14.7%8.3%1.9%6.3%11 of 2055%1.7
    028Miscellaneous processed foods14.6%16.9%5.9%1.2%2.0%2.4%1.6%2.2%16 of 2080%6.7
    029Prepared animal feeds17.1%15.9%8.0%9.6%5.9%3.9%1.4%3.9%15 of 2075%4.4
    03Textile products & apparel8.7%12.9%15.4%-0.2%4.7%3.8%1.9%1.8%13 of 2065%4.8
    032Processed yarns & threads17.9%27.1%29.3%-2.0%6.7%5.8%1.8%2.7%13 of 2065%6.5
    033Greige fabrics11.7%15.3%13.3%-1.1%3.2%2.6%0.3%1.6%11 of 2055%7.1
    034Finished fabrics9.1%12.1%14.5%1.8%5.7%4.1%2.3%2.2%14 of 2070%4.1
    038Apparel & other fabricated textile prods4.2%7.3%7.0%-0.1%2.7%2.2%1.8%1.4%16 of 2080%3.1
    039Miscellaneous textile products/services26.1%37.5%25.7%2.2%5.2%3.7%1.7%1.8%12 of 2060%14.5
    043Footwear6.6%10.0%6.0%-0.2%3.0%2.3%2.7%2.1%18 of 2090%3.1
    044Other leather & related products4.0%5.0%3.0%1.1%1.8%1.7%2.1%1.6%19 of 2095%2.5
    05Fuels & related products & power33.8%36.6%38.3%-6.3%6.7%6.9%0.2%4.9%13 of 2065%6.8
    053Gas fuels72.8%93.5%108.2%9.1%1.3%7.8%0.5%4.6%11 of 2055%15.8
    055Utility natural gas8.7%33.7%40.5%14.5%9.0%9.3%4.5%4.4%13 of 2065%2.0
    056Crude petroleum (domestic production)33.0%31.1%48.6%-22.3%9.2%6.0%-3.9%7.7%13 of 2065%4.3
    057Petroleum products, refined39.5%40.6%57.4%-15.3%11.8%10.8%-1.0%7.7%13 of 2065%5.1
    058Asphalt & other petroleum & coal products19.4%44.1%48.7%11.9%8.7%15.2%-1.9%9.0%12 of 2060%2.2
    06Chemicals & allied products5.5%6.4%22.9%0.7%6.4%5.5%2.6%4.5%17 of 2085%1.2
    061Industrial chemicals5.7%4.1%44.5%-3.1%9.3%7.3%0.9%5.3%12 of 2060%1.1
    062Paints & allied products17.9%21.4%13.9%1.4%6.0%5.1%2.7%3.9%17 of 2085%4.6
    064Fats & oils, inedible16.0%8.0%49.7%15.2%21.3%8.3%0.5%7.4%12 of 2060%2.2
    065Agricultural chemicals & chemical products14.6%30.8%49.5%3.8%12.5%10.2%2.4%5.1%13 of 2065%2.9
    067Other chemicals & allied products9.7%13.4%8.7%0.3%3.3%2.8%1.9%2.4%19 of 2095%4.0
    07Rubber & plastic products9.2%14.3%21.1%0.6%6.4%5.1%2.5%3.2%17 of 2085%2.9
    071Rubber & rubber products11.3%12.7%11.0%0.3%3.5%2.8%0.6%2.7%14 of 2070%4.2
    072Plastic products8.6%14.8%24.1%0.7%7.2%5.7%3.1%3.3%16 of 2080%2.6
    082Millwork10.9%14.9%17.7%7.9%8.6%6.8%4.8%3.2%19 of 2095%3.4
    084Other wood products9.9%7.7%17.1%2.9%7.2%6.0%3.9%2.5%15 of 2075%3.9
    085Logs, bolts, timber, pulpwood & wood chips4.8%3.0%7.8%3.2%2.1%1.9%1.2%2.0%15 of 2075%2.4
    086Prefabricated wood buildings & components8.5%13.8%25.6%6.2%10.6%8.0%5.3%3.7%17 of 2085%2.3
    087Treated wood & contract wood preserving10.5%22.1%6.1%12.4%7.1%4.8%4.3%2.7%14 of 2070%3.9
    09Pulp, paper & allied products9.4%12.8%16.0%3.0%5.3%4.1%2.3%2.6%16 of 2080%3.6
    091Pulp, paper & prod., ex. bldg. paper9.2%12.5%18.6%1.6%4.9%4.2%2.3%2.8%15 of 2075%3.3
    094Publications, printed matter & printing material12.6%17.4%9.5%1.5%4.5%3.2%1.7%11 of 2092%7.4
    103Metal containers19.1%27.0%21.6%0.7%6.9%6.4%2.7%3.2%14 of 2070%6.0
    104Hardware4.4%11.7%17.5%1.8%6.6%5.0%2.9%2.8%17 of 2085%1.5
    105Plumbing fixtures & fittings8.7%11.1%5.4%1.9%3.5%3.4%2.5%2.7%20 of 20100%3.5
    106Heating equipment7.1%14.5%21.3%0.4%8.3%6.4%4.1%4.0%20 of 20100%1.7
    107Fabricated structural metal products7.7%14.2%41.6%2.2%13.0%9.7%4.9%4.5%17 of 2085%1.6
    108Miscellaneous metal products6.6%10.9%14.0%0.7%5.1%4.3%2.1%2.4%17 of 2085%3.2
    11Machinery & equipment7.8%10.1%7.1%1.0%3.2%2.6%1.5%1.2%15 of 2075%5.0
    111Agricultural machinery & equipment10.1%16.2%14.6%1.0%5.8%4.3%2.8%2.9%20 of 20100%3.7
    112Construction machinery & equipment8.5%13.4%10.1%1.2%4.4%3.5%2.6%2.8%20 of 20100%3.2
    113Metalworking machinery & equipment6.7%9.5%7.3%0.7%3.1%2.7%1.9%1.8%18 of 2090%3.6
    114General purpose machinery & equipment12.2%15.3%10.1%1.8%4.6%4.0%2.8%3.0%20 of 20100%4.3
    1141Pumps, compressors, and equipment14.6%16.0%7.6%0.7%3.1%3.2%2.6%3.1%20 of 20100%4.8
    1142Elevators, escalators, and other lifts4.3%17.3%16.7%0.9%7.1%5.3%3.4%2.4%16 of 2080%1.8
    1143Fluid power equipment10.9%13.7%8.7%1.1%4.0%3.3%2.4%3.0%20 of 20100%3.6
    1144Industrial material handling equipment7.6%12.9%14.4%1.7%5.6%4.6%3.4%3.3%19 of 2095%2.3
    1145Mechanical power transmission equipment12.3%13.7%8.0%1.7%3.8%3.4%2.3%3.1%18 of 2090%4.0
    1146Scales and balances7.4%9.0%11.9%1.1%4.8%5.3%3.9%2.9%20 of 20100%2.5
    1147Air purif. equip. & indust./commerc. fans/blowers9.2%10.1%9.6%1.8%4.9%4.0%2.9%2.8%19 of 2095%3.2
    1148Air conditioning and refrigeration equip19.0%24.9%14.7%2.6%6.7%5.4%3.3%2.8%19 of 2095%6.8
    114902Metal valves, except fluid power12.3%14.2%4.9%2.8%3.2%3.6%3.2%4.1%20 of 20100%3.0
    114903Metal pipe fittings, flanges, and unions14.1%16.0%14.4%13.6%9.5%7.8%3.5%3.4%15 of 2075%4.1
    116Special industry machinery & equipment8.4%10.0%11.6%2.1%5.1%3.7%2.3%2.0%19 of 2095%3.6
    118Miscellaneous instruments7.6%9.2%3.5%1.3%2.3%2.1%1.8%1.8%20 of 20100%4.2
    119Miscellaneous machinery4.9%6.6%4.1%0.8%2.1%1.8%1.1%1.8%17 of 2085%4.5
    12Furniture & household durables7.1%9.3%10.9%1.6%4.7%3.9%2.4%2.1%20 of 20100%3.0
    121Household furniture7.1%10.0%13.3%0.9%5.4%4.3%2.7%2.5%19 of 2095%2.6
    122Commercial furniture10.0%12.0%12.5%1.9%5.5%4.8%2.9%2.7%18 of 2090%3.4
    124Household appliances8.5%10.5%8.3%1.9%4.4%3.7%1.9%1.3%12 of 2060%4.5
    126Other household durable goods5.0%6.6%9.8%2.6%4.5%3.2%2.1%1.8%20 of 20100%2.4
    13Nonmetallic mineral products12.2%13.8%7.8%2.1%3.8%3.5%3.0%3.3%19 of 2095%4.0
    131Glass6.6%8.9%6.5%3.3%3.7%3.0%2.8%1.5%15 of 2075%2.4
    132Concrete ingredients & related products11.9%11.9%4.1%3.8%3.7%3.7%3.6%3.8%19 of 2095%3.3
    133Concrete products12.5%15.4%8.4%2.7%4.6%4.0%3.6%3.5%17 of 2085%3.5
    134Clay construction products ex. refractories5.8%7.2%5.4%2.0%2.9%1.9%1.5%1.3%15 of 2075%3.8
    135Refractories10.3%11.1%7.2%0.5%4.3%3.8%2.7%3.5%18 of 2090%3.8
    136Asphalt felts & coatings16.4%14.9%11.7%2.3%4.2%5.1%1.9%4.8%11 of 2055%8.7
    137Gypsum products16.5%18.6%20.2%3.7%6.1%6.0%6.9%4.4%15 of 2075%2.4
    138Glass containers10.9%12.4%6.8%1.7%3.7%2.8%2.1%2.7%20 of 20100%5.2
    139Other nonmetallic minerals13.3%15.1%8.4%-0.5%2.6%2.5%1.9%3.3%16 of 2080%6.9
    14Transportation equipment3.7%5.1%3.9%0.9%1.7%1.5%1.3%1.4%19 of 2095%2.7
    141Motor vehicles & equipment3.7%5.3%4.6%0.7%1.7%1.4%1.3%1.0%16 of 2080%2.9
    142Aircraft & aircraft equipment3.7%4.3%1.6%1.3%1.4%1.3%1.4%2.2%19 of 2095%2.6
    143Ships & boats4.6%6.1%5.2%1.3%3.2%2.4%1.8%2.7%20 of 20100%2.6
    149Transportation equipment, n.e.c.5.7%9.9%10.2%0.5%3.7%3.3%2.0%1.7%16 of 2080%2.8
    15Miscellaneous products7.4%9.0%6.3%2.8%4.3%3.6%2.7%2.5%18 of 2090%2.8
    151Toys, sporting goods, small arms, etc.7.7%9.7%9.7%0.3%4.8%2.9%2.0%1.7%16 of 2080%3.8
    152Tobacco products, incl. stemmed & redried9.1%10.7%7.7%6.4%6.8%6.3%5.5%4.3%18 of 2090%1.7
    153Notions6.4%13.5%12.6%0.6%4.8%3.6%2.2%3.1%18 of 2090%2.9
    154Photographic equipment & supplies8.5%10.3%7.2%-0.1%4.7%3.4%2.0%1.5%12 of 2060%4.3
    155Mobile homes8.3%15.0%30.1%8.6%15.4%11.0%6.8%5.2%20 of 20100%1.2
    156Medical, surgical & personal aid devices3.3%3.8%1.3%1.1%1.3%1.2%1.0%1.1%20 of 20100%3.4
    157Other industrial safety equipment7.4%9.2%7.0%2.9%3.0%2.0%2.1%1.8%18 of 2090%3.5
    159Other miscellaneous products12.0%14.9%8.7%2.1%5.4%4.0%2.2%2.3%18 of 2090%5.4
  • LIFO Tax Savings Calculator


    • Identify the year to date & 20 year average annual historical inflation rates for your company using the tables shown below the calculator
    • Enter the following values into the blue-colored cells:
      • Prior year end inventory balance at cost
      • Current year inflation rate
      • 20 year average annual inflation rate: used to calculate the 20 year projected tax savings
      • Combined federal & state tax rate
    • The green-colored cells will automatically update as soon as all values have been entered into the blue-colored input cells

    Note: LIFO is adopted on a prospective basis & LIFO tax savings accrue beginning in the year of the change. Prior period benefits can NOT be retrospectively recaptured. 20 year cumulative taxable income reduction & after-tax cash savings shown in calculator are for analysis purposes only & is provided to project the potential tax savings from LIFO that could occur over the next 20 years based on your current year inventory balance at cost & the historical inflation rates.

  • Learn More

    Is your company considering electing LIFO? Get a free benefit analysis from LIFOPro! We’ll build a comprehensive case study delivered to you in the form of a report containing everything you need to make an informed decision while considering a LIFO election. This complimentary, comprehensive analysis is only available from the experts at LIFOPro. Submit your LIFO benefit analysis questionnaire today by clicking the button below!

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IPIC LIFO Advantages

Switching from the double-extension to link-chain method? Want to achieve higher possible inflation indexes? Learn more at the IPIC LIFO Advantages page.

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LIFO Repeal Updates

Get the latest LIFO repeal updates including the latest news on corporate tax reform at LIFO-PRO’s LIFO Repeal Updates page.

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LIFOPro Videos

LIFO-PRO Company Overview – Quick 1 minute video explaining LIFO-PRO’s service and software offerings.

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View some of our frequently asked questions to learn more about LIFO

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LIFO Glossary

Accounting and financial professionals who work with LIFO need to understand the jargon associated with LIFO. Below are a number of LIFO-related terms.

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What Makes a Good LIFO Candidate?

Get answers to who should use the LIFO method, how much LIFO may benefit your company or client & good LIFO candidates by industry & principal business activity along with historical inflation data.

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How LIFO Works

Hundreds of companies & CPA firms utilize our LIFO outsourcing solutions or the LIFO-PRO software for turnkey LIFO solutions.

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