What is a profit and loss statement?

Profit and loss statement (definition)

A profit and loss statement shows how much your business has spent and earned over a specified time. It also shows whether you’ve made a profit or a loss over that time – hence the name. A profit and loss statement might also be called an ‘income statement’, a ‘statement of operations’, a ‘statement of earnings’ or a ‘P&L’.

A profit and loss statement shows all your revenue and expenses. This includes things like payroll, advertising, rent and insurance. It will also show your earnings from sales and other forms of income.

Your total profit or loss for the time period you’ve chosen is what you’ve earned minus what you’ve spent. If this amount is positive, it’s called a net income. If it’s negative it’s called a net loss.

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Disclaimer: This glossary is for small business owners. The definitions are written with their requirements in mind. More detailed definitions can be found in accounting textbooks or from an accounting professional. Xero does not provide accounting, tax, business or legal advice.