Fiscal Year Vs Calendar Year: What’s Best for Your Business?





For tax, accounting, and even budgeting purposes, it’s important to know the difference between a fiscal year vs calendar year. A fiscal year doesn’t always align with its calendar counterpart. For example, Microsoft corporation winds up its fiscal year at the end of June.

As the name suggests, a calendar year begins on January 1 and ends on Dec 31. Amazon uses this calendar year system for tax reporting.

What is a fiscal year?

A fiscal and a calendar year are two different things. A fiscal year is the 12-month accounting period for a business cycle. A fiscal year-end date is different than the end of the calendar year. It’s the financial reporting cycle business uses for tax purposes. That’s one of the key differences.



What is a calendar year?

A calendar year is a one-year period starting on January 1 and ending on December 31.

fiscal year vs calendar year

Differences Between a Calendar Year Vs Fiscal Year

There are several differences between a fiscal year and a calendar year.

  • The calendar year starts on New Year’s Day. They use the Gregorian calendar. In the business world, you can use a calendar year for tax returns. They start on Jan 1 and the calendar year end is Dec 31.
  • The fiscal year starts on any date. They require more complicated financial reporting. And fiscal years need to end 365 days later or within a twelve-month period.
  • The calendar year is more aligned with IRS systems.
  • A calendar year doesn’t always provide the most accurate financial reports. Seasonal businesses using a fiscal year get more accurate income and expense reporting.

Here’s an interesting aside. Residents can use the same tax return as U.S citizens. It doesn’t matter what choice they’ve made between a fiscal and calendar year.


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Can you change your tax year with the IRS?

The IRS uses the calendar tax year as a foundation. If you use your own fiscal year, deadlines need to be adjusted. You’ll need to pay by the 15th day of the fourth month after the end of whatever fiscal year you’ve picked.

So seasonal business taxes is different from someone paying using a more traditional calendar year. Most taxpayers have a deadline of April 15th.

Are you a business that wants to use a fiscal year to report taxes? Your first income tax return needs to use the fiscal tax year you’ve selected.

Choosing Between Fiscal Vs Calendar Year for Accounting Purposes

Using a fiscal year has benefits. Calendar years have their upside too. Here are some pluses and minuses to both fiscal and calendar years to help you choose.



Fiscal Year Benefits

Using the fiscal year at tax season has some business advantages. Seasonal businesses can make their financial statements more accurate for the internal revenue service. Their revenues and expenses can line up better on a business tax return. It’s good for retailers when a fiscal year spans the holiday season.

Implementing a fiscal year can help your business get more attention from your accountant. A tax preparation business is usually busy from January to April. Fiscal years usually end on different dates. Get the most from any user fee they charge this way.

Here’s an example. The “fiscal” school year runs from July 1 and ends June 30. Here’s some info on how a leap year factors into a fiscal year taxpayers and businesses need to know about.

Calendar Year Benefits

Using a calendar year for financial and accounting affairs has benefits. For sole proprietors and small businesses using the calendar year reporting method is simpler. When a tax return for a business and its owner match up, putting together all the financial statement is easier. The default system that the IRS uses is based on the calendar year.



Other Considerations

It’s important to remember that for many individuals and S corporations, there’s no difference between a fiscal or calendar year. The twelve months for tax filing are the same. But of course, that’s not always the case. This startup checklist also has some other matters you should consider about the finances of your business.

How do you change your reporting calendar with the IRS?

Here’s a scenario you’ll want to look at. Your business has already filed for your tax year. But you want to change your income tax return by adjusting the schedule. You need to file the request with the federal government generally and the IRS specifically.

Small businesses need to file Form 1128. It’s the Application to Adopt, Change or Retain a Tax Year. There’s a section on this for an automatic approval request. And space for your employer identification number. All the information needs to be carefully detailed.

Can a fiscal year and a calendar year be the same?

For most small businesses the fiscal year and the calendar year are different. However, a fiscal year can fit inside a calendar year. But it cannot be longer than 371 days or 53 weeks.



Do income tax regulations require a fiscal year or a calendar year?

Companies can file business taxes using a fiscal year. Or a business owner can choose to use the calendar year. Choosing either annual accounting period is about staying abreast of any Income Tax Regulations and Internal Revenue Codes. Tax filing might have a start date and an end date that’s mandated.

When is the 2023 fiscal year?

The fiscal year in the United States for the federal government begins on Oct 1, 2022. It ends on September 30 , 2023 as the last day. Many nonprofit organizations use from July 1 to June 30 when they are picking fiscal years. Both are early months compared to the calendar year.

Fiscal years apply differently depending on the internal revenue code. For example, an S corporation needs to fill out Form 1128 to file using a different fiscal year.

On the other hand, not all fiscal years use the same last day. If you’re a sole proprietor, you’ll end your year Dec 31. The fiscal year taxpayers use is the same–Jan 1 to Dec 31.



Some businesses make installment payments on estimated taxes. These paid estimated taxes are divided into four installments. Here’s a link to some of the payment periods.

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Rob Starr Rob Starr is a staff writer for Small Business Trends. Rob is a freelance journalist and content strategist/manager with three decades of experience in both print and online writing. He currently works in New York City as a copywriter and all across North America for a variety of editing and writing enterprises.

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