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Key concepts
Accountant · Bookkeeping · Trial balance · General ledger · Debits and credits · Cost of goods sold · Double-entry system · Standard practices · Cash and accrual basis · GAAP / IFRS
Financial statements
Balance sheet · Income statement · Cash flow statement · Equity · Retained earnings
Financial audit · GAAS · Internal audit · Sarbanes–Oxley Act · Big Four auditors
Fields of accounting
Cost · Financial · Forensic · Fund · Management · Tax

A fiscal year (or financial year, or sometimes budget year) is a period used for calculating annual ("yearly") financial statements in businesses and other organizations. In many jurisdictions, regulatory laws regarding accounting and taxation require such reports once per twelve months, but do not require that the period reported on constitutes a calendar year (i.e., January through December). Fiscal years vary between businesses and countries.

In addition, many companies find that it is convenient for purposes of comparison and for accurate stock taking to always end their fiscal year on the same day of the week, where local legislation permits. Thus some fiscal years will have 52 weeks and others 53. Major corporations that adopt this approach include Cisco Systems[1] and Tesco.[citation needed]

In the United Kingdom, a number of major corporations that were once government owned, such as BT Group and the National Grid, continue to use the government's financial year, which ends on the last day of March, as they have found no reason to change since privatisation.

Nevertheless, the fiscal year is identical to the calendar year for about 65% of publicly traded companies in the United States and for a majority of large corporations in the UK and elsewhere (with notable exceptions Australia, New Zealand and Japan).[citation needed]

Many universities have a fiscal year which ends during the summer, both to align the fiscal year with the school year, and because the school is normally less busy during the summer months. In the Northern hemisphere this is July in one year to June in the next year. In the southern hemisphere this is January to December of a single calendar year.

Some media/communication based organizations use a Broadcast calendar as the basis for their fiscal year.


Operation in various countries

In some jurisdictions, particularly those that permit tax consolidation, companies that are part of a group of businesses must use nearly the same fiscal year (differences of up to three months are permitted in some jurisdictions, such as the U.S. and Japan), with consolidating entries to adjust for transactions between units with different fiscal years, so the same resources will not be counted more than once or not at all.


United States

The U.S. government's fiscal year begins on October 1 of the previous calendar year and ends on September 30 of the year with which it is numbered. Prior to 1976, the fiscal year began on July 1 and ended on June 30. The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 stipulated the change to allow Congress more time to arrive at a budget each year, and provided for what is known as the "transitional quarter" from July 1, 1976 to September 30, 1976. As stated above, the tax year for a business is governed by the fiscal year it chooses.

For example, the United States government fiscal year for 2010 ("FY 2010" or "FY10") is as follows:

  • 1st Quarter: October 1, 2009 - December 31, 2009
  • 2nd Quarter: January 1, 2010 - March 31, 2010
  • 3rd Quarter: April 1, 2010 - June 30, 2010
  • 4th Quarter: July 1, 2010 - September 30, 2010


The Australian government's fiscal year begins on July 1 and concludes on June 30 of the following year. This applies for personal income tax and the federal budget, and most companies are required to use it as their own.


The Pakistan Government's fiscal year starts on July 1 of the previous calendar year and concludes on June 30. Private companies are free to observe their own accounting year, which may not be the same as Goverment of Pakistan's fiscal year.

New Zealand

The New Zealand Government's fiscal[2] and financial reporting[3] year begins on July 1 and concludes on June 30 of the following year and applies to the budget. The company and personal financial year[4] begins on April 1 and finishes on March 31 and applies to company and personal income tax.

Canada, India, Hong Kong, Japan

In Canada,[5] Hong Kong,[6] India,[7][8] and Japan,[9] the government's financial year runs from April 1 to March 31.

Japan's income tax year runs from January 1 to December 31, but corporate tax is charged by their own one year period.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom,[10] the fiscal year for the purposes of personal taxation and payment of state benefits runs from April 6 to April 5. However the year should run from April 1 to March 31 for the purposes of corporation tax [11] and government financial statements [12]

Although United Kingdom corporation tax is charged by reference to the government's financial year, companies can adopt any year as their accounting year: if there is a change in tax rate, the taxable profit is apportioned to financial years on a time basis.

The April 5 year end for personal tax and benefits reflects the old ecclesiastical calendar, with New Year falling on March 25 (Lady Day), the difference being accounted for by the eleven days "missed out" when Great Britain converted from the Julian Calendar to the Gregorian Calendar in 1752 (the British tax authorities, and landlords were unwilling to lose 11 days of tax and rent revenue, so under provision 6 (Times of Payment of Rents, Annuities, &c.) of the Calendar (New Style) Act 1750, the 1752–3 tax year was extended by 11 days). From 1753 until 1799, the tax year in Great Britain began on April 5, which was the "old style" new year of March 25. A 12th skipped Julian leap day in 1800 changed its start to April 6. It was not changed when a 13th Julian leap day was skipped in 1900, so the personal tax year in the United Kingdom is still April 6.


In the Arab Republic of Egypt, the fiscal year starts on July 1 and concludes on June 30.


Ireland also used the year ending April 5 until 2001 when it was changed, at the request of Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy, to match the calendar year (the 2001 tax year was nine months, from April to December).

United Arab Emirates

In the United Arab Emirates, the fiscal year starts on January 1 and ends December 31.

Mainland China and Taiwan

The fiscal year for all entities starts on January 1 and ends December 31, consistent with the calendar year, to match the tax year, statuatory year, and planning year.

Under the Income Tax Act of Taiwan, the fiscal year commences on January 1 and ends on December 31 of each calendar year. However, an enterprise may elect to adopt a special fiscal year at the time it is established and can request approval from the tax authorities to change its fiscal year.[13]

See also



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