A 12-month financial accounting period used by businesses and governments for budget planning, performance assessment, strategy formulation, taxation, and other purposes. For instance, in 2020, the fiscal year begins on October 1, 2019, and concludes on September 30, 2020.

A Fiscal Year (FY), also known as a financial year or budget year, is a 12-month period that organizations use for financial reporting and planning purposes [1, 2]. It’s important to distinguish it from a calendar year (January 1st to December 31st).

Here’s a closer look at fiscal years:

  • Flexibility in Dates: Unlike calendar years, fiscal years can have any start and end date, as long as it covers a period of 12 months or 52/53 weeks [2, 3]. Companies or governments choose a fiscal year that best aligns with their business cycles or operational needs.
  • Planning and Budgeting: Fiscal years serve as a framework for organizations to create budgets, track financial performance, and measure progress towards their goals [1].
  • Financial Reporting: Companies use their fiscal year to prepare financial statements like income statements and balance sheets. These reports are then shared with investors, creditors, and regulatory bodies [2].
  • Tax Filing: In many jurisdictions, a company’s tax year coincides with its fiscal year. This means their tax filings will reflect the income and expenses incurred during that specific fiscal period [3].

Here are some examples of why a company might choose a non-calendar year fiscal year:

  • Seasonal Businesses: A retail company with peak sales during the holiday season might choose a fiscal year ending in January or February to capture the full holiday sales cycle in their financial reports [2].
  • Industry Cycles: Companies in industries with predictable seasonal fluctuations might choose a fiscal year that aligns with those cycles. For instance, an agricultural company might set their fiscal year to end after the harvest season [1].
  • Administrative Efficiency: Some companies might choose a fiscal year-end that avoids peak workloads for their accounting teams, such as during the holiday season [3].

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