How to Use Calendar Year vs. Fiscal Year

by Alia Nikolakopulos

The difference between a calendar year and fiscal year reporting period is when a business begins and ends its reporting period. Calendar year filers follow the same start and end dates of a regular calendar - Jan. 1 through Dec. 31. Many businesses use this type of reporting because it is easy to follow and account for. But a company can choose to begin and end its tax year on different dates, as long as it is equal to a calendar. Some businesses that have seasonal sales adopt a fiscal-year period that is different that the calendar year because it coincides more efficiently with its business activities.

Calendar Year

Begin your calendar year on January 1.

Record all reportable income and expenses during the calendar year the transaction occurs in. If your business processes additional reportable transactions, such as asset dispositions, dividend payments or shareholder distributions, record the transactions in the calendar year during which they occur.

End your calendar year on December 31. If your business is a sole-proprietorship or partnership, your business income tax return is due on April 15 following the end of your tax year. If your business is a corporation or S-corporation, your business income tax return is due March 15.

Fiscal Year

Select a month to begin your fiscal year. You may choose any month. Begin your fiscal year on the first of the month you choose. To notify the IRS of your fiscal-year, you must indicate the beginning and end dates of your fiscal year at the top of your first business income tax return.

Record income, expenses and reportable transactions during the fiscal year they occur in.

End your fiscal year on the last day of the 12th month following the beginning of your fiscal year. For example, if your fiscal year begins August 1, the last day of your fiscal year is July 31.

File your business income tax return on the 15th day of the fourth month following the end of your fiscal year, if your business is a sole proprietorship or partnership. For example, if your fiscal year ends July 31, you must file your income tax return by December 15. If your business is a corporation or S-corporation, your business income tax return is due on the 15th day of the third month following the close of the fiscal year. Fiscal year filers must file the same deadlines as calendar-year filers for all other types of tax returns. The change in filing date applies only to income tax returns.

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