A fiscal year (or financial year, or sometimes budget year) is the period used by governments for accounting and budget purposes, which vary between countries. It is also used for financial reporting by business and other organizations. Laws in many jurisdictions require company financial reports to be prepared and published on a generally annual basis, but generally do not require that the reporting period be calendar year, 1 January to 31 December. Taxation laws generally require accounting records to be maintained and taxes calculated on an annual basis, which usually corresponds to the fiscal year used for government purposes. The calculation of tax on an annual basis is especially relevant for direct taxation, such as income tax. Many annual government fees—such as Council rates, licence fees, etc.—are also levied on a fiscal year basis, while others are charged on an anniversary basis.
The "fiscal year end" (FYE) is the date that marks the end of the fiscal year. Some companies—such as Cisco Systems—end their fiscal year on the same day of the week each year, e.g. the day that is closest to a particular date (for example, the Friday closest to 31 December). Under such a system, some fiscal years will have 52 weeks and others 53 weeks.
The calendar year is used as the fiscal year by about 65% of publicly traded companies in the United States and for a majority of large corporations in the UK and elsewhere, with notable exceptions being in Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Many universities have a fiscal year which ends during the summer, both to align the fiscal year with the academic 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 to the next June. In the southern hemisphere this is calendar year, January to December. Some media/communication-based organizations use a broadcast calendar as the basis for their fiscal year.
The fiscal year is usually denoted by the year in which it ends, so United States federal government spending incurred on 14 November 2017 would belong to fiscal year 2018, operating on a fiscal calendar of October–September.
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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. 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. However, short years are permitted as the first year or when changing tax years.
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.
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.
In Afghanistan, the fiscal year was recently changed from 1 Hamal – 29 Hoot (21 March – 20 March) to 1 Jadi – 30 Qaus (21 December – 20 December). The fiscal year runs with the Afghan calendar, thus resulting in difference of the Gregorian dates once in a four-year span.
In Australia, a fiscal year is commonly called a "financial year" (FY) and starts on 1 July and ends on the next 30 June. Financial years are designated by the calendar year of the second half of the period. For example, financial year 2017 is the 12-month period ending on 30 June 2017 and can be referred to as FY2016/17. It is used for official purposes, by individual taxpayers and by the overwhelming majority of business enterprises. Business enterprises may opt to use a financial year that ends at the end of a week (e.g., 52 or 53 weeks in length, and therefore is not exactly one calendar year in length), or opt for its financial year to end on a date that matches the reporting cycle of its foreign parent. All entities within the one group must use the same financial year.
For government accounting and budget purposes, pre-Federation colonies changed the financial year from the calendar year to a year ending 30 June on the following dates: Victoria changed in 1870, South Australia in 1874, Queensland in 1875, Western Australia in 1892, New South Wales in 1895 and Tasmania in 1904. The Commonwealth adopted the near-ubiquitous financial year standard since its inception in 1901. The reason given for the change was for convenience, as Parliament typically sits during May and June, while it was difficult for it to meet in November and December to pass a budget.
In Austria the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
In Bangladesh, the fiscal year is 1 July to the next 30 June.
In Belarus, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December. 
In Brazil, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
In Canada, the government's financial year is 1 April to 31 March.
(Q1 1 April - 30 June, Q2 1 July - 30 Sept, Q3 1 Oct - 31 Dec and Q4 1 Jan - 31 Mar)
For individual taxpayers, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
In China, the fiscal year for all entities is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December, and applies to the tax year, statutory year, and planning year.
In Colombia, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
In Costa Rica, the fiscal year is 1 October to 30 September.
In the Arab Republic of Egypt, the fiscal year is 1 July to 30 June.
In France, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December, and has been since at least 1911.
In Greece, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
In Hong Kong, the government's financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March.
Companies following the Indian Depositary Receipt (IDR) are given freedom to choose their financial year. For example, Standard Chartered's IDR follows the UK calendar despite being listed in India. Companies following Indian fiscal year get to know their economical health on 31 March of every Indian financial or fiscal year.
The current fiscal year was adopted by the colonial British government in 1867 to align India's financial year with that of the British Empire. Prior to 1867, India followed a fiscal year that ran from 1 May to 30 April.
In 1984, the LK Jha committee recommended adopting a fiscal year that ran from 1 January to 31 December. However, this proposal was not adopted by the government fearing possible issues during the transition period. A panel set up by the NITI Aayog in July 2016, recommended starting the next fiscal year from 1 January to 31 December after the end of the current five-year plan.
Until 2001, the fiscal year in Ireland was the year ending 5 April, as in the United Kingdom. From 2002, to coincide with the introduction of the euro, it was changed to the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December. The 2001 tax year was nine months, from April to December.
In Israel, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
In Italy, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December. It was changed in 1965, before which it was 1 July to 30 June.
In Japan, the government's financial year is from 1 April to 31 March. 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 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018 is called 2017–nendo.
In Macau, the government's financial year is 1 January to 31 December.
In Mexico, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
In New Zealand, the government's fiscal and financial reporting year is 1 July to the next 30 June and applies also to the budget. The company and personal financial year is 1 April to 31 March and applies to company and personal income tax.
The Pakistani government's fiscal year is 1 July of the previous calendar year and concludes on 30 June. Private companies are free to observe their own accounting year, which may not be the same as government's fiscal year.
In Portugal, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
In Qatar, the fiscal year is from 1 April to 31 March.
In Russia, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
The fiscal year for the calculation of personal income taxes is 1 January to 31 December.
Corporations and organisations are permitted to select any date as the end of each fiscal year, as long as this date remains constant.
In South Africa, the fiscal year for the Government of South Africa is 1 April to 31 March.
The year of assessment for individuals covers twelve months, 1 March to 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 1 July to 30 June, inherited from the British system. A common practice for newer companies is to run their tax year from 1 March to the final day of February following, to synchronize with the tax year for individuals.
In South Korea, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
In Spain, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
In Sweden, the fiscal year for individuals is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
The fiscal year for an organisation is typically one of the following:
In Taiwan, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December. 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.
In Thailand, the government's fiscal year (FY) is 1 October to 30 September of the following year. For individual taxpayers it is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
In Ukraine, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
In the United Arab Emirates, the fiscal year is the calendar year, 1 January to 31 December.
In the United Kingdom, the financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March for the purposes of government financial statements. For personal tax purposes the fiscal year starts on 6 April and ends on 5 April of the next calendar year.
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.
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.
The 5 April year end for personal tax and benefits reflects the old ecclesiastical calendar, with New Year falling on 25 March (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 5 April, which was the "old style" new year of 25 March. A 12th skipped Gregorian leap day in 1800 changed its start to 6 April. 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 6 April.
The United States federal government's fiscal year is the 12-month period ending on 30 September of that year, having begun on 1 October of the previous calendar year. In particular, the identification of a fiscal year is the calendar year in which it ends; thus, the current fiscal year is 2018, often written as "FY2018" or "FY18", which began on 1 October 2017 and which will end on 30 September 2018.
Prior to 1976, the fiscal year began on 1 July and ended on 30 June. The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 made 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 1 July 1976 to 30 September 1976. An earlier shift in the federal government's fiscal year was made in 1843, shifting the fiscal year from a calendar year to one starting on 1 July.
For example, the United States government fiscal year for 2018 is:
State governments set their own fiscal year. It may or may not align with the federal calendar. For example, in the state of California, the fiscal year runs from 1 July to 30 June each year.
The tax year for a business is governed by the fiscal year it chooses. A business may choose any consistent fiscal year that it wants; however, for seasonal businesses such as farming and retail, a good account practice is to end the fiscal year shortly after the highest revenue time of year. Consequently, most large agriculture companies end their fiscal years after the harvest season, and most retailers end their fiscal years shortly after the Christmas shopping season.