Main / Glossary / Temporary Difference

Temporary Difference

Temporary difference refers to the discrepancy between the carrying value of an asset or liability on the financial statements and its tax base. These differences arise due to variations in the timing of recognizing transactions or events for accounting and tax purposes. Temporary differences are a crucial concept in financial reporting, specifically in the field of corporate finance, accounting, and taxation. Understanding temporary differences is essential for accurate financial reporting and tax planning.


Temporary differences are classified into two categories: taxable temporary differences and deductible temporary differences. Taxable temporary differences occur when the tax base exceeds the carrying value of an asset or liability, resulting in the recognition of taxable amounts in future periods. On the other hand, deductible temporary differences arise when the carrying value of an asset or liability surpasses its tax base, leading to the recognition of tax benefits in the future.

Temporary differences can emerge from various sources. Some common examples include:

  1. Depreciation: Differences in depreciation methods and rates for tax and accounting purposes create temporary differences. For example, accelerated depreciation methods may be used for tax purposes, while straight-line depreciation is utilized for accounting purposes.
  2. Revenue Recognition: Timing differences arise when revenue is recognized differently for financial reporting and tax purposes. This includes instances where revenue is recognized in advance or deferred for accounting or tax purposes due to various rules and regulations.
  3. Measurement of Assets and Liabilities: Valuation differences due to revaluation of assets, inventory write-downs, or debt restructuring also lead to temporary differences. These differences can affect both the carrying value and tax base of assets and liabilities.
  4. Tax Loss Carryforwards: Temporary differences can occur when tax laws allow the carryforward of tax losses from previous periods. These tax benefits would be recognized in future periods, resulting in deferred tax assets.
  5. Accrued Expenses and Revenue: Differences in the timing of recognizing expenses and revenue can lead to temporary differences. Accrued expenses or revenue recognized for accounting purposes but not yet for tax purposes create temporary differences.


Temporary differences have significant implications for financial reporting, tax planning, and calculation of deferred tax assets and liabilities. Accounting standards require the recognition of deferred tax assets and liabilities to reflect the impact of temporary differences.

Deferred tax assets arise from deductible temporary differences, tax incentives, or carryforward of tax losses. These assets represent future economic benefits that a company expects to realize through reduced tax liabilities. In contrast, deferred tax liabilities result from taxable temporary differences and represent future tax obligations that will arise due to these temporary differences.

The recognition of deferred tax assets and liabilities is critical for presenting a more accurate financial position. It ensures that the financial statements reflect the potential tax consequences of temporary differences that will impact future tax payments or savings.

Moreover, understanding temporary differences is fundamental to tax planning. Companies can utilize temporary differences to manage their tax liabilities efficiently. By strategically timing the recognition of revenue or expenses, companies can optimize their tax positions.

In summary, temporary differences play a vital role in financial reporting and tax planning. They arise from variations in accounting and tax regulations, impacting the carrying value and tax base of assets and liabilities. A clear understanding of temporary differences enables accurate financial reporting and effective tax planning, ultimately contributing to sound business finance practices.