What is an accounting period?

Accounting period (definition)

An accounting period is any time frame used for financial reporting. Transactions that fall within a given date range form part of the statements or reports for that accounting period.


An accounting period, or reporting period, is often 12 months. There may be different accounting periods for various business tasks. For example, you may have one for income tax, another for sales tax, and still others for business reporting.

Some common accounting periods are a calendar year (January 1 through December 31) or a calendar quarter (January 1 through March 31).

Example accounting periods

Annual accounting periods may be used for things like annual reports and income tax returns. Quarterly accounting periods may be used for things like investor reports. Monthly accounting periods may be used for things like management meetings and decision-making.

Annual accounting periods don’t have to start in January. Nor do monthly accounting periods have to start on the first of the month.

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