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Accounting Periods

Module by: Charles Davidson. E-mail the author

Summary: Overview of calendar year and fiscal year accounting periods for the purpose of filing an individual tax return.

For the purposes of taxation, an accounting period is a 12-month period the taxpayer uses to calculate his or her income tax. Most individuals use a calendar year accounting period which refers to the 12 months from January 1 to December 31. A fiscal year refers to any 12 month period that ends on the last day of any month except for December. A fiscal year commonly ends at the end of a quarter, for example, March, June, or September, but could any in any month. Fiscal year accounting periods are more common for businesses and corporations than they are for individuals.

The taxpayer chooses the accounting period when the first income tax return is filed. The accounting period cannot be longer than 12 months. The first or last tax return, however, may have an accounting period that is less than 12 months.

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