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Inflation is the increase in the price of goods or services in a country. Usually, governments or economists measure it as a rate of change in specific items over time. This rate is increasing steadily, causing many investors to suffer a loss on their investments. Investors can still manage or mitigate this risk through instruments.
One of the instruments used in this regard is an inflation swap. It has specific tax and accounting treatments. Before discussing those, it is crucial to understand what an inflation swap is.
What is an Inflation Swap?
An inflation swap is a type of derivative instrument that allows parties to hedge against changes in the rate of inflation. It can also serve as a speculation tool against the same rate. Usually, investors, companies, and other organizations use it as a tool to manage inflation risk. Essentially, an inflation swap is similar to other swap derivatives. However, it depends on an inflation index.
In an inflation swap, one party agrees to pay a fixed rate of return to the other. In contrast, the other party pays a rate tied to an inflation index. The most common among them is the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The payment made by the fixed rate payer is usually a part of the contract, agreed upon by both parties. However, the obligation of the inflation rate payer comes based on the inflation index at the end of the contract.
What is the accounting treatment for Inflation Swap?
The accounting treatment for an inflation swap depends on the terms of the contract. Usually, accounting standards require companies to treat inflation swaps as derivatives. Based on this accounting treatment, these instruments are subject to mark-to-market accounting. It means that the value of the contract gets evaluated at the end of each reporting period to reflect changes in the market value of the underlying inflation index.
Companies must record inflation swaps on the balance sheet at their fair value. At the end of each accounting period, they must evaluate this value. Any fluctuations to this value go into the profit or loss statement. On top of that, any income or expense associated with the underlying contract also becomes a part of the income statement as income or expense.
What is the tax treatment for Inflation Swap?
A notional principal contract (NPC) is any financial instrument where one party pays the other an amount based on a specified index. These payments occur after regular intervals. Based on this definition, an inflation swap falls under a notional principal contract. This contract has two types, periodic and non-periodic, simplifying the tax treatment for inflation swaps.
With periodic payment NPCs, the payments occur at an interval of one year or less. With these contracts, the accounting for the derivative is irrelevant. The taxpayer must recognize the ratable daily portion of the periodic payment for the tax year. If these payments are non-periodic, the rules are the same. However, the taxpayer recognizes the non-periodic payment section on a ratable daily basis.
An inflation swap is a derivative that investors use to manage inflation risk. The payments in this swap occur based on an inflation index. When accounting for inflation swaps, companies must recognize them at fair value and evaluate that value each year. The tax treatment for inflation swap falls under the definition of a notional principal contract.
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