A fiscal year (or financial year, or sometimes budget year) is a period used for calculating annual ("yearly") financial statements in businesses and other organizations all over the world. In many jurisdictions, regulatory laws regarding accounting and taxation require such reports once per twelve months, but do not require that the period reported on constitutes a calendar year(that is, 1 January to 31 December). Fiscal years vary between businesses and countries. The "fiscal year" may also refer to the year used for income tax reporting.
The fiscal year end (FYE) is the date that marks the end of the fiscal year. Some companies choose to end their fiscal year such that it ends on the same day of the week each year, e.g., the day that's 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. A major corporation that has adopted this approach is Cisco Systems.
Nevertheless, the fiscal year is identical to the calendar year for 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 Australia, New Zealand and Japan).
In the United Kingdom, the financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March for the purposes of corporation tax and government financial statements. For the self-employed and others who pay personal tax 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 theCalendar (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.
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