U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Oct 27, 2020
(a) In general. Section 460 generally requires a taxpayer to determine the income from a long-term manufacturing contract using the percentage-of-completion method described in § 1.460-4(b) (PCM). A contract not completed in the contracting year is a long-term manufacturing contract if it involves the manufacture of personal property that is -
(1) A unique item of a type that is not normally carried in the finished goods inventory of the taxpayer; or
(2) An item that normally requires more than 12 calendar months to complete (regardless of the duration of the contract or the time to complete a deliverable quantity of the item).
(b) Unique - (1) In general. Unique means designed for the needs of a specific customer. To determine whether an item is designed for the needs of a specific customer, a taxpayer must consider the extent to which research, development, design, engineering, retooling, and similar activities (customizing activities) are required to manufacture the item and whether the item could be sold to other customers with little or no modification. A contract may require the taxpayer to manufacture more than one unit of a unique item. If a contract requires a taxpayer to manufacture more than one unit of the same item, the taxpayer must determine whether that item is unique by considering the customizing activities that would be needed to produce only the first unit. For the purposes of this paragraph (b), a taxpayer must consider the activities performed on its behalf by a subcontractor.
(2) Safe harbors. Notwithstanding paragraph (b)(1) of this section, an item is not unique if it satisfies one or more of the safe harbors in this paragraph (b)(2). If an item does not satisfy one or more safe harbors, the determination of uniqueness will depend on the facts and circumstances. The safe harbors are:
(i) Short production period. An item is not unique if it normally requires 90 days or less to complete. In the case of a contract for multiple units of an item, the item is not unique only if it normally requires 90 days or less to complete each unit of the item in the contract.
(ii) Customized item. An item is not unique if the total allocable contract costs attributable to customizing activities that are incident to or necessary for the manufacture of the item do not exceed 10 percent of the estimated total allocable contract costs allocable to the item. In the case of a contract for multiple units of an item, this comparison must be performed on the first unit of the item, and the total allocable contract costs attributable to customizing activities that are incident to or necessary for the manufacture of the first unit of the item must be allocated to that first unit.
(iii) Inventoried item. A unique item ceases to be unique no later than when the taxpayer normally includes similar items in its finished goods inventory.
(c) Normal time to complete - (1) In general. The amount of time normally required to complete an item is the item's reasonably expected production period, as described in § 1.263A-12, determined at the end of the contracting year. Thus, in general, the expected production period for an item begins when a taxpayer incurs at least five percent of the costs that would be allocable to the item under § 1.460-5 and ends when the item is ready to be held for sale and all reasonably expected production activities are complete. In the case of components that are assembled or reassembled into an item or unit at the customer's facility by the taxpayer's employees or agents, the production period ends when the components are assembled or reassembled into an operable item or unit. To the extent that several distinct activities related to the production of the item are expected to occur simultaneously, the period during which these distinct activities occur is not counted more than once. Furthermore, when determining the normal time to complete an item, a taxpayer is not required to consider activities performed or costs incurred that would not be allocable contract costs under section 460 (e.g., independent research and development expenses (as defined in § 1.460-1(b)(9)) and marketing expenses). Moreover, the time normally required to design and manufacture the first unit of an item for which the taxpayer intends to produce multiple units generally does not indicate the normal time to complete the item.
(2) Production by related parties. To determine the time normally required to complete an item, a taxpayer must consider all relevant production activities performed and costs incurred by itself and by related parties, as defined in § 1.460-1(b)(4). For example, if a taxpayer's item requires a component or subassembly manufactured by a related party, the taxpayer must consider the time the related party takes to complete the component or subassembly and, for purposes of determining the beginning of an item's production period, the costs incurred by the related party that are allocable to the component or subassembly. However, if both requirements of the exception for components and subassemblies under § 1.460-1(g)(1)(ii) are satisfied, a taxpayer does not consider the activities performed or the costs incurred by a related party when determining the normal time to complete an item.
(d) Qualified ship contracts. A taxpayer may determine the income from a long-term manufacturing contract that is a qualified ship contract using either the PCM or the percentage-of-completion/capitalized-cost method (PCCM) of accounting described in § 1.460-4(e). A qualified ship contract is any contract entered into after February 28, 1986, to manufacture in the United States not more than 5 seagoing vessels if the vessels will not be manufactured directly or indirectly for the United States Government and if the taxpayer reasonably expects to complete the contract within 5 years of the contract commencement date. Under § 1.460-1(e)(3)(i), a contract to produce more than 5 vessels for which the PCM would be required cannot be severed in order to be classified as a qualified ship contract.
(e) Examples. The following examples illustrate the rules of this section: