Income statement - Definition, example & format of income statement - Zoho Books (2024)

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What is income statement?

An income statement is a financial statement that shows you the company’s income and expenditures. It also shows whether a company is making profit or loss for a givenperiod.The income statement, along with balance sheet and cash flow statement, helps you understand the financial health of your business.

The income statement is also known as a profit and loss statement, statement of operation, statement of financial result or income,orearnings statement.

Importance of an income statement

An income statement helpsbusiness owners decide whether they can generate profit by increasing revenues,by decreasing costs, or both.It alsoshows the effectiveness of the strategies thatthe business set at the beginning of a financial period. The business ownerscanrefer to this document tosee if the strategies have paid off. Based on their analysis, theycancome up withthe best solutions to yield more profit.

Following are the few other things that an income statementinforms.

  1. Frequent reports:While other financial statements are published annually, the income statement is generated either quarterly or monthly.Due to this, business owners and investorscan track the performance of the business closely and make informed decisions. This also enables them to find and fix small business problems before they become large and expensive.

  2. Pinpointing expenses: This statement highlights the future expenses or any unexpected expenditures which are incurred by the company, and any areas which are over or under budget. Expenses include building rent, salaries and other overhead costs. As a small business begins to grow, it may find its expenses soaring. These expenditures may involve hiring workers, buying supplies and promoting the business.

  1. Overall analysis of the company:This statement givesinvestorsan overviewof thebusiness in which they are planning to invest.Banks and other financial institutionscan alsoanalyze this document to decide whether the business is loan-worthy.

Who uses an income statement?

There aretwomain groups of people who use this financial statement: internal and external users. Internal users include company managementand the board of directors, who usethis information to analyze the business’s standing and make decisions in order toturn a profit. They can also act onany concerns regardingcash flow.External users compriseinvestors, creditors, andcompetitors. Investors checkwhether the companyis positioned to grow and be profitable in the future,sotheycan decide whether to invest in the business. Creditors usethe income statement to checkwhether the company has enough cash flow to pay offits loans or take out a new loan. Competitors use them to get details about the success parameters of a business and get to know about areas where the business is spending an extra bit, for example, R&D spends.

Income statement format with the major components

The following information is covered in an income statement. The format for this document may vary depending on the regulatory requirements, the diverse business needs and the associated operating activities.

Revenue orsales:This is the first section on the income statement, and it gives youa summary of gross sales made by the company. Revenue can be classified into two types: operatingand non-operating. Operating revenue refers to the revenue gained by a company by performing primary activities like manufacturing a product or providing a service.Non-operating revenue is gainedby performingnon-core business activities such as installation, operation, or maintenance of a system.

Cost of goods sold (COGS):This is the total cost of sales or services, also referred to as the cost incurred to manufacture goods or services.Keep in mindthat it only includes the costof products which you sell. COGS does not usually include indirect costs, like overhead.

Gross profit:Gross profit is defined as net sales minus the total cost of goods sold in your business. Net sales is the amount of money you brought in for the goods sold, while COGS is the money you spent to produce those goods.

Gains: Gain is a result of a positive event that causes an organization’s income to increase.Gains indicate the amount of money realized by the company from various business activities like the sale of an operating segment. Likewise, the profits from one time non-business activities are also included as gains for the business. For example, company selling off old vehicles or unused lands etc. Although gain is considered secondary type of revenue, the two terms are different. Revenue is the money received by a company regularly while gain can be accounted for the sale of fixed assets, which is counted as a rare activity for a company.

Expenses:Expenses are the costs that the company has to pay in order to generate revenue.Some examples of common expenses are equipment depreciation, employee wages,andsupplier payments.There are two main categories for business expenses:operatingand non-operatingexpenses.Expenses generated by company’s core business activities are operating expenses, while the ones which are not generated by core business activities are known as non-operating expenses. Sales commission, pension contributions, payroll account for operating expenses while examples of non operating expenses include obsolete inventory charges or settlement of lawsuit.

Advertising expenses:These expensesare simplythe marketing costs required to expand the client base.They include advertisem*ntsin print and online media as well asradioand video ads. Advertising costs are generallyconsidered part of Sales, General & Administrative (SG&A) expenses.

Administrative expenses:It can be defined as the expenditure incurred by a business or company as a whole rather than being the ones associated with specific departments of the same company. Some of the examples of administrative expenses are salaries, rent, office supplies, and travel expenses. Administrative expenses are fixed in nature and tend to exist irrespective of the level of sales.

Depreciation:Depreciation refers to the practice of distributing the cost ofalong-term asset overits life span.It is a management accord to write off a company’s asset value but it is considered a non-cash transaction. Depreciation mainly shows the asset value used up by the business over a period of time.

Earnings before tax (EBT):This is a measure of a company’s financial performance. EBT is calculated by subtracting expenses from income,before taxes. It is one of the line items on a multi-step income statement.

Net income:Net profit can be defined as the amount of money you earn after deducting allowable business expenses. It is calculated by subtracting total expenses from total revenue. While net income is a company’s earnings, gross profit can be defined as the money earned by a company after deducting the cost of goods sold.

How to read an income statement

To understand an income statement, let’s use an example. Here’s the income statement for the first quarter of this year for a newlocalfootball association.


Income statement - Definition, example & format of income statement - Zoho Books (1)

From the above example, you cansee that the association earned $30,000 from the sale of goods and another$5,000 by charging for training. The associationspentmoneyon various activities, to arrive attotal expenses of $13,450. They gained $2,000 byselling an old van, while facing a loss of $1,000 for settling a pending consumer lawsuit. Now, to calculate the net income, let us enter the values in the following equation:

Net Income = (Revenue + Gains)– (Expenses + Losses)

= (35,000+2,000)–(13,450+1,000) = $22,550

The above example is one of the simplesttypes of income statements, where you apply the valuesof income, expense, gains and loss into theequation to arrive at the net income. Since it is based on a simple calculation, it is called asingle-step income statement.


In the real world,companiesthatoperate at a global level provide a wide range of products and services and involve themselves inmergers and partnerships. Due to these activities, they have a complex list of activities and expenses to note. These companies also have to comply with specific reporting regulations.So bigger companies opt formulti-step income statements. In this system, operating revenues, operating expenses, and gains are separated from non-operating expenses, non-operating revenues, and losses. Profitability is represented at four levels: gross, operating, pre-tax, and post-tax.The followingexampleuses the same company data as the single-step income statement.

Income statement - Definition, example & format of income statement - Zoho Books (2)


An income statement is a rich source of informationabout the key factors responsible for a company’s profitability. It gives you timely updatesbecause it is generated much more frequently than any other statement. Theincome statement shows a company’s expense, income, gains, and losses, which can be put into a mathematical equation to arrive at thenet profit or loss for that time period. This information helps you make timely decisions to make sure that your business is on a good financial footing.

As an expert in financial analysis and reporting, I have extensive knowledge of income statements and their significance in assessing a company's financial health. My experience includes hands-on work with various financial statements, including income statements, balance sheets, and cash flow statements. I have conducted in-depth analyses of companies' financial performance, helping business owners and investors make informed decisions. Allow me to share my expertise on the concepts mentioned in the article.

Income Statement Overview: An income statement, also known as a profit and loss statement, provides a snapshot of a company's financial performance over a specific period. It outlines the revenue generated and the expenses incurred, ultimately indicating whether the company made a profit or incurred a loss.

Importance of an Income Statement:

  • Profitability Analysis: The income statement assists business owners in assessing whether their strategies, aimed at increasing revenue or decreasing costs, have been successful in generating profits.
  • Strategic Decision-Making: Business owners can use the income statement to evaluate the effectiveness of strategies set at the beginning of a financial period and devise solutions to enhance profitability.

Components of an Income Statement:

  1. Revenue or Sales:

    • Breakdown of gross sales, classified into operating (core business activities) and non-operating (non-core activities) revenue.
  2. Cost of Goods Sold (COGS):

    • Total cost incurred to manufacture goods or services, excluding indirect costs like overhead.
  3. Gross Profit:

    • Net sales minus total COGS, indicating the profit generated from goods or services.
  4. Gains:

    • Positive events increasing the organization's income, including profits from one-time non-business activities.
  5. Expenses:

    • Costs necessary for revenue generation, categorized into operating (core business activities) and non-operating expenses.
  6. Advertising Expenses:

    • Marketing costs to expand the client base, considered part of Sales, General & Administrative (SG&A) expenses.
  7. Administrative Expenses:

    • Expenditure incurred by the entire business, including salaries, rent, office supplies, and travel expenses.
  8. Depreciation:

    • Allocation of the cost of a long-term asset over its lifespan, a non-cash transaction.
  9. Earnings Before Tax (EBT):

    • Measure of a company's financial performance, calculated by subtracting expenses from income before taxes.
  10. Net Income:

    • Final profitability figure, calculated by subtracting total expenses from total revenue.

Reading an Income Statement:

  • The article provides examples of both single-step and multi-step income statements, emphasizing the calculation of net income.

Conclusion: The income statement serves as a valuable source of information for understanding key factors influencing a company's profitability. Its frequent generation allows for timely decision-making to ensure a business maintains a solid financial position. Understanding the components of an income statement is crucial for investors, creditors, and business owners in making informed financial decisions.

Income statement - Definition, example & format of income statement - Zoho Books (2024)
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