Home Business and Finance Fiscal Year vs Calendar Year: What is the Difference?

Fiscal Year vs Calendar Year: What is the Difference?

by Delarno
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Fiscal year vs Calendar year

In the world of finance and accounting, it is important to understand the distinction between a fiscal year and a calendar year. While both timeframes are used to track the passage of time, they differ in their start and end dates, as well as their purposes. Understanding the difference between these two timeframes is critical for businesses and organizations to properly manage their finances and report their financial results accurately.

What is a calendar year?

A calendar year is a 12-month period that starts on January 1st and ends on December 31st. It is the most common time frame used in everyday life and is based on the Gregorian calendar. The calendar year is used to determine important dates such as tax filing deadlines, holidays, and other events that occur annually.

What is a fiscal year?

On the other hand, a fiscal year is a 12-month period that a business or organization uses to track its financial activities. It can begin on any date, and it does not have to coincide with the calendar year. A company’s fiscal year is typically chosen based on its operational needs, and it may differ from the calendar year. For example, a retail business may choose to start its fiscal year in February, as this is when its slow season ends and its busy season begins.

It is important to note that while the start and end dates may differ, the length of a fiscal year is always 12 months. This allows businesses and organizations to accurately track their financial performance over time, regardless of the start date of their fiscal year.


In summary, while a calendar year is a fixed period based on the Gregorian calendar, a fiscal year is a 12-month period chosen by a business or organization for financial reporting purposes. Understanding the difference between these two time-frames is essential for managing finances and reporting financial results accurately.

For example, a company may choose to have its fiscal year start on July 1 and end on June 30 of the following year. This means that all of its financial transactions, including revenues, expenses, and taxes, are recorded and reported on a fiscal year basis, rather than a calendar year basis. This allows the company to align its financial reporting with its business operations, which may not necessarily follow the calendar year.

The choice of a fiscal year can depend on a variety of factors, including the company’s industry, seasonality of its business, and tax planning considerations.

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