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 (that is, 1 January to 31 December). Fiscal years vary between businesses and countries. The "fiscal year" may also refer to the year used for income tax reporting.

Some companies choose to end their fiscal year on the same day of the week, such day being the one closest to a particular date (for example, the Friday closest to December 31). Under such a system, some fiscal years will have 52 weeks and others 53 weeks. Major corporations that adopt this approach include Cisco Systems[1].

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[2] 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, in some cases involving public universities, with the state government's fiscal 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/region

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.


The Australian government's financial 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 year ending on the 30th June, 2011 is referred to as "financial year 2010-11" or sometimes just "financial year 2011".


In Colombia, the Fiscal Year starts January 1st ending in December 31st. Yearly taxes are due in the middle of March/April for Corporations while citizens pay income tax (when needed) starting in August, ending in September, according to the last 2 digits of the national id.

Costa Rica

The Fiscal Year in Costa Rica spans from October 1 until September 30 of the following year. Taxpayers are required to pay the tributes before December 15 of each year.

Canada, Hong Kong

In Canada,[3] and Hong Kong,[4] the government's financial year runs from April 1 to March 31 (Example April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013 for the current financial year).


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


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


Effective 1911:- Fiscal year is calendar year (Ref Hansard; HC Deb 22 March 1911 vol 23 cc378-82; McKENNA)


In India[5][6] the government's financial year runs from April 1 to March 31 (Example April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013 for the current financial year).


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).


Effective 1911:- Fiscal year is 1 Jul through 30 Jun (Ref Hansard; HC Deb 22 March 1911 vol 23 cc378-82; McKENNA)


In Japan,[7] the government's financial year runs from April 1 to March 31. The fiscal year is represented by the calendar year in which the period begins followed by the word nendo (年度); for example the fiscal year from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011 is called 2010-nendo.

Japan's income tax year runs from January 1 to December 31, but corporate tax is charged according to the corporation's own one-year period.


In Mexico the fiscal year is the same as the calendar year.

New Zealand

The New Zealand Government's fiscal[8] and financial reporting[9] 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[10] begins on April 1 and finishes on March 31 and applies to company and personal income tax.


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 Government of Pakistan's fiscal year.


Effective 1911:- Fiscal year is calendar year (Ref Hansard; HC Deb 22 March 1911 vol 23 cc378-82; McKENNA)


The fiscal year for the calculation of personal income taxes runs from 1 January to 31 December.

The fiscal year for the Government of Singapore and many government-linked corporations runs from 1 April to 31 March.

Corporations and organisations are permitted to select any date to mark the end of each fiscal year, as long as this date remains constant.

South Africa

In South Africa the fiscal year for the Government of South Africa starts on April 1 and ends March 31. The year of assessment for individuals covers 12 months, beginning on 1 March and ending on the final day of February the following year. The Act also provides for certain classes of taxpayers to have a year of assessment ending on a day other than the last day of February. Companies are permitted to have a tax year ending on a date that coincides with their financial year. Many older companies still use a tax year that runs from July 1st to June 30th, inherited from the British system. A common practice for newer companies is to run their tax year from 1st March to the final day of February following, to synchronize with the tax year for individuals.


In Spain the fiscal year starts on January 1 and ends December 31.


The fiscal year for individuals runs from 1 January to 31 December.

The fiscal year for an organisation is typically one of the following (cf. Swedish Wikipedia):

If an organisation wishes to use any other period, the organisation has to ask the tax authorities for permission.


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.[11]


Thai government's fiscal year begins on October 1 of the previous calendar year and ends on 30 September of the next year.

United Arab Emirates

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

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom,[12] 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[13] and government financial statements.[14]

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 start of the personal tax year in the United Kingdom is still April 6.[15][16]

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.[17]

For example, the United States government fiscal year for 2012 ("FY 2012" or "FY12") is as follows:

Chart of various fiscal years

By Country
Country Purpose 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Costa Rica
Hong Kong
Japan govt
corp. and pers.
New Zealand govt
corp. and pers.
Singapore govt
Sweden pers.
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom pers. 6 April
corp. and govt
United States govt
Country Purpose J F M A M J J A S O N D J F M A M J J A S O N D

Tax year

The fiscal year for individuals and entities to report and pay income taxes is often known as the taxpayer's tax year or taxable year. Taxpayers in many jurisdictions may choose their tax year.[18] In federal countries (e.g., United States, Canada, Switzerland), state/provincial/cantonal tax years must be the same as the federal year. Nearly all jurisdictions require that the tax year be 12 months or 52/53 weeks.[19] However, short years are permitted as the first year or when changing tax years.[20]

Most countries require all individuals to pay income tax based on the calendar year. Significant exceptions include:

Many jurisdictions require that the tax year conform to the taxpayer's fiscal year for financial reporting. The United States is a notable exception: taxpayers may choose any tax year, but must keep books and records for such year.[22]

See also


  1. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/12/business/cisco-profit-for-quarter-slightly-beats-estimates.html Cisco Profit for Q3 2004 beats estimates
  2. ^ 120 of top 200, per Financial Times UK 500 2011
  3. ^ Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
  4. ^ CIA - The World Factbook - Hong Kong
  5. ^ CIA - The World Factbook - India
  6. ^ "Why financial year & calendar year differ in India?". Reuters. November 10, 2008.
  7. ^ CIA - The World Factbook - Japan
  8. ^ Annual Report for the New Zealand Treasury
  9. ^ New Zealand International Financial Reporting Standards
  10. ^ New Zealand Inland Revenue tax calendar
  11. ^ "Investing in Taiwan". Taiwan Investment Guide. 2008.
  12. ^ CIA - The World Factbook - United Kingdom
  13. ^ HM Revenue and Customs Introduction to Corporation Tax
  14. ^ HM Treasury Accounts Direction 2008-09
  15. ^ Joseph, Pat (2008). Tax Answers at A Glance 08 09 (illustrated ed.). Lawpack Publishing Ltd. p. 5. ISBN 1905261810.
  16. ^ Steel, Duncan (2000). Marking time: the epic quest to invent the perfect calendar (illustrated ed.). John Wiley and Sons. p. 5. ISBN 0471298271.
  17. ^ U.S. Senate: Reference Home
  18. ^ See, e.g., U.S. IRS Publication 538.
  19. ^ 26 USC 441
  20. ^ 26 USC 443.
  21. ^ See instructions to IRS Form 1128 and 26 USC 441-444.
  22. ^ 26 USC 441.