Income Statement Definition, Formula & Importance | Tipalti (2024)

Income statements play a critical role in determining a company’s financial health. Businesses monitor revenues and expenses from the income statement against plans and budgets and forecast financial performance.

Table of Contents

  • What is an Income Statement?
  • Understanding an Income Statement
  • Components of an Income Statement
  • Formula Used for Income Statements
  • Example of an Income Statement
  • How Do You Create an Income Statement?
  • When Should an Income Statement Be Prepared?
  • Income Statement vs Multi Step Income Statement
  • Importance of Income Statements

What is an Income Statement?

An income statement is a core financial statement that shows you the company’s revenues, costs and expenses,net incomeor loss, and other comprehensive income (loss) for a period of time used in accounting. An income statement is used alongside thebalance sheetand cash flow statement to paint a clear picture of a company’s financial health.

An income statement showing net profit or loss is also called a profit and loss statement. It may also present basic and diluted earnings per share (EPS) and weighted shares outstanding for a corporation with shareholders.

Understanding an Income Statement

To understand an income statement, consider it in the context of financial statements. An Income statement is one of three core financial statements. The other main financial statements are the balance sheet and cash flow statement.

Income statements in the U.S. are usually prepared using GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles). GAAP requires accrual accounting and following codified FASB accounting standards. Financial statements in other countries follow IFRS (international financial reporting standards), which have differences from GAAP reporting.

An important GAAP standard covers revenue recognition, which records a company’s revenues when performance obligations are reached. The income statement reports net sales instead of gross sales revenue. Returns and allowances reduce the gross sales to equal net sales.

Operating revenues are reported in the operating income section, separately from net income from discontinued operations.

Sometimes a small business may choose to prepare tax basis income statements that don’t comply with GAAP.

Most businesses use a multi step income statement which is more detailed than a single step or simple income statement. Preparing multi step income statements is easy when generated automatically with accounting software and ERP system reports.

A multi step income statement shows more classifications with subtotals, including revenue, cost of goods sold, gross profit, operating expenses by functional area and operating gains or losses, operating income (loss), non-operating expenses and gains or losses, profit before taxes, income tax expense, and net income (loss).

The income statement also shows the details of other comprehensive income (loss), which may be presented as part of the income statement or as a separate financial statement.

Publicly-traded and most privately-held companies present detailed financial statements prepared following GAAP. These financial statements include sections for revenues, cost of goods sold (COGS) or cost of services, and a gross profit subtotal in the income statement, before listing expenses and calculating operating income (loss) and net income (loss).

Net income (loss) flows to retained earnings (deficit) in the shareholders’ equity section of the balance sheet.

Another type of multistep income statement prepared by management accountants in a company for internal financial analysis separates direct and indirect expenses or variable and fixed expenses to compute contribution margin for product profitability calculations and pricing decisions.

Components of an Income Statement

Components of an income statement include:

  • Revenues
  • Cost of goods sold or cost of services
  • Gross profit
  • Operating expenses and gains (losses)
  • Operating income (loss)
  • Other expenses and gains (losses)
  • Net income before taxes
  • Income tax expense
  • Net income
  • Other comprehensive income (loss)

Functional area operating expenses, often listed as line items on an income statement, include general and administrative expenses, sales and marketing expenses, and research and development expenses. These items are combined as total expenses from operations.

To avoid giving too much information to competitors (from financial statements), general & administrative and sales expenses are sometimes combined as selling, general & administrative expenses (SG&A).

Fixed assets on the balance sheet are reduced by accumulated depreciation, with depreciation expense included in the income statement. Certain assets like patents are amortized, with amortization expense flowing to the income statement. Depreciation and amortization are non-cash expenses.

For companies not in the lending business, interest income and interest expense are netted and shown in the Other expenses section of an income statement, between Operating income and Net income before taxes.

Formula Used for Income Statements

The simplest formula used for income statements is:

Revenue – Expenses = Net Income

Multi step income statements have a more detailed formula:

Revenue – Cost of Goods Sold = Gross Profit – Operating Expenses and Costs = Operating Income – Non-operating Expenses and Costs = Net Income

Gains or losses are also considered when calculating operating income and net income.

Example of an Income Statement

Salesforce Consolidated Statements of Operations and Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income (income statements) from the company’s 10-K annual report filing with the SEC dated March 11, 2022, are shown below (excluding the notes).

Income Statement Definition, Formula & Importance | Tipalti (1)
Income Statement Definition, Formula & Importance | Tipalti (2)

The Salesforce consolidated statement of operations shows the financial statement line items used to calculate operating income and net income in a multi step income statement. This financial statement also shows basic and diluted earnings per share (EPS) and the weighted number of shares used for each EPS calculation.

These Salesforce financial statements are considered income statements. They show separate lines for revenues and cost of revenues (also called cost of sales) by type, subtotals for Total Revenues and Total cost of revenues, then a subtotal for Gross profit.

Operating expenses follow. Line items for operating expenses include:

  • Research and development
  • Marketing and sales
  • General and administrative
  • Loss on settlement of reseller agreement

These operating expense line items are subtotaled on a Total operating expenses line.

The following line subtracts Total operating expenses from Gross Profit. The result is called Income from Operations.

Non-operating gains or losses and expenses follow on the next two line items. In this case, they’re not labeled as non-operating items. These line items are Gains on strategic investments, net, and Other expenses. These gains are added, and the other expenses are subtracted to calculate the next subtotal.

In Salesforce’s income statement, the subtotal is Benefit from (provision for) income taxes, followed by a total line for Net income.

Following net income are four separate line items for Basic net income per share, Diluted net income per share, Shares used in computing basic net income per share, and Shares used in computing diluted net income per share.

Notes to the financial statements follow.

Instead of continuing to show Other Comprehensive Income (Loss) in its income statement, Salesforce chooses to present a separate statement named Consolidated Statements of Comprehensive Income.

This financial statement begins with a Net Income line, which is the same as shown in the Consolidated Statements of Operations.

The following section is Other comprehensive income (loss), net of reclassification adjustments. Two line items are included in this section, then subtotaled:

  • Foreign currency translation and other gains (losses)
  • Unrealized gains (losses) on marketable securities and privately held debt securities

The subtotal is called Other comprehensive income (loss), before tax.

The next line item is Tax effect, followed by a subtotal line for Other comprehensive income (loss), net.

The final line in this Salesforce Consolidated Statements of Financial Income portion of the income statement is Comprehensive income. Comprehensive income combines totals for Net income and Other comprehensive income (loss), before tax.

How Do You Create an Income Statement?

How to create an income statement:

  1. Complete the trial balance and post to the general ledger.
  2. Select the report format and accounting period from your accounting software.
  3. Generate the income statement report.
  4. Review and analyze the income statement.
  5. Distribute the income statement within the company.
  6. Prepare external financial statements for stakeholders, including the income statement.

Bookkeepers and accountants create financial statements, with accountants having more advanced training to comply with GAAP accounting standards.

Today, it’s rare and inefficient to create an income statement manually without financial accounting software. If you’re an outlier choosing to prepare a manual income statement, refer to this article’s Components of an Income Statement section.

When Should an Income Statement Be Prepared?

An income statement should be prepared monthly at the end of each accounting period, quarterly, and year-end for financial reporting. A projected (forecast) income statement for future accounting periods should be prepared when business plans, cash flow forecasts, or other financial models are needed.

An annual income statement is prepared for the fiscal or calendar year ended on a company’s selected year-end date.

Income Statement vs Multi Step Income Statement

Income statement vs multi step income statement means the difference between a simple and a detailed income statement showing revenue, cost of goods sold, and gross profit and separating operating and non-operating expenses and gain or loss to compute operating income(loss) and net income (loss) in steps.

Net income, called the bottom line, is included in both income statement formats.

Another definition of a multi step income statement for internal use by management accountants is an income statement that presents direct costs and indirect costs separately. Or an internal multi-step income statement breaks down costs into fixed and variable costs to compute contribution margin. The contribution margin is used to analyze a company’s break-even point and product profitability.

Importance of Income Statements

Income statements are important for assessing a company’s financial performance. Businesses can manage revenue and expenses in the financial plan and budget with variance analysis. Companies use Income statement projections to model and set financial goals.

Businesses calculate gross margin (gross profit margin) as a percentage of gross profit to revenues to analyze profitability at the cost of sales level, then monitor these income statement trends over time.

Financial analysts and investment banking firms use EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization), calculated from the income statement, in M&A to determine the valuation of target companies they consider buying. Other comps are also considered. EBITDA converts EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) to a cash basis by adding back the non-cash expenses depreciation and amortization.

Businesses analyze income statements using ratios (also using amounts from the balance sheet) to calculate many metrics. Companies can track ratios each reporting period and performance trends with KPIs (key performance indicators).

Metrics include several profitability ratios, including the rate of return on investment (ROI). The DuPont ratio multiplies net profitability, asset turnover, and financial leverage to compute return on equity (ROE).

Using income statements, ratios, and other financial statements, businesses can benchmark their financial results to other companies in the industry to gauge their relative performance and make improvements.

As a financial expert with a comprehensive understanding of income statements and financial reporting, I have extensive experience in analyzing and interpreting financial statements to evaluate a company's financial health. My expertise is grounded in practical application, having worked with various businesses and industries, providing valuable insights into their financial performance.

Now, let's delve into the concepts covered in the article:

  1. Income Statement Overview:

    • The income statement is a crucial financial statement that displays a company's revenues, costs, expenses, net income or loss, and other comprehensive income over a specific period.
    • It is a fundamental component used in conjunction with the balance sheet and cash flow statement to offer a comprehensive view of a company's financial position.
  2. Components of an Income Statement:

    • Revenues: The total income generated by the company.
    • Cost of goods sold (COGS) or cost of services: The direct costs associated with producing goods or services.
    • Gross profit: Calculated as revenues minus COGS.
    • Operating expenses and gains (losses): Includes various expenses related to the company's operations.
    • Operating income (loss): Derived by subtracting total operating expenses from gross profit.
    • Other expenses and gains (losses): Non-operating items affecting the company's financial performance.
    • Net income: The final profit or loss after considering all revenues, expenses, gains, and losses.
  3. Formula Used for Income Statements:

    • Simple Formula: Revenue – Expenses = Net Income
    • Multi-Step Formula: Revenue – COGS = Gross Profit – Operating Expenses = Operating Income – Non-operating Expenses = Net Income
  4. Example of an Income Statement:

    • The article provides an example using Salesforce's Consolidated Statements of Operations, demonstrating how line items contribute to calculating operating income and net income in a multi-step income statement.
  5. How to Create an Income Statement:

    • The process involves completing the trial balance, posting to the general ledger, selecting report format and accounting period, generating the income statement report, reviewing and analyzing it, and finally distributing it within the company.
  6. When Should an Income Statement Be Prepared:

    • Monthly at the end of each accounting period, quarterly, and year-end for financial reporting.
    • A projected income statement should be prepared when business plans, cash flow forecasts, or financial models are needed.
  7. Income Statement vs Multi-Step Income Statement:

    • Explains the difference between a simple income statement and a multi-step income statement, emphasizing the detailed breakdown in the latter.
  8. Importance of Income Statements:

    • Essential for assessing a company's financial performance and managing revenues and expenses.
    • Used for variance analysis in financial planning and budgeting.
    • Provides insights for modeling and setting financial goals.
    • Used by financial analysts and investment banking firms for M&A valuation through metrics like EBITDA.
    • Enables businesses to analyze profitability through metrics, ratios, and industry benchmarking.

In conclusion, my expertise allows me to navigate the complexities of income statements, providing a thorough understanding of their components, formulas, and practical applications in financial analysis.

Income Statement Definition, Formula & Importance | Tipalti (2024)


What is the definition and importance of income statement? ›

The income statement shows a company's expense, income, gains, and losses, which can be put into a mathematical equation to arrive at the net 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.

What is the formula for the income statement? ›

The basic formula for an income statement is Revenues – Expenses = Net Income. This simple equation shows whether the company is profitable. If revenues are greater than expenses, the business is profitable.

What is income statement answer? ›

An income statement shows a company's revenues, expenses and profitability over a period of time. It is also sometimes called a profit-and-loss (P&L) statement or an earnings statement. It shows your: revenue from selling products or services.

What is most important on an income statement? ›

Revenues—The Top Line

Revenue represents the value of the goods and/or services delivered to customers over the reporting period. Revenues constitute one of the most important lines of the income statement.

What are the basics of the income statement? ›

The income statement presents revenue, expenses, and net income. The components of the income statement include: revenue; cost of sales; sales, general, and administrative expenses; other operating expenses; non-operating income and expenses; gains and losses; non-recurring items; net income; and EPS.

What is the income statement for dummies? ›

The Income Statement is one of a company's core financial statements that shows their profit and loss over a period of time. The profit or loss is determined by taking all revenues and subtracting all expenses from both operating and non-operating activities.

What is the income statement by function? ›

An income statement by function is the one in which expenses are disclosed according to different functions they are spent on (cost of goods sold, selling, administrative, etc.)

What is the definition of an income statement quizlet? ›

Income Statement. An income statement reports the revenues earned less the expenses incurred by a business over a period of time.

What is the importance of the financial statements? ›

The purpose of financial statements is to allow businesses to understand their financial standing. This provides a summary of previous financial data which can help businesses to make informed decisions. This data can also inform other individuals or companies which may potentially have a state in the business.

What are the 3 main parts of an income statement? ›

The following are the 3 important Income Statement Parts.
  • Revenue. Revenue refers to the income generated by a company from the sale of products and services to its customers. ...
  • Expenses. Expenses are also known as the costs associated with running a company. ...
  • Net income.

What is the purpose of the income statement quizlet? ›

The purpose of the income statement is to show a company's profitability during a specific period of time. The difference (or "net") between the revenues and expenses for the company is often referred to as the bottom line and it is labeled as either Net Income of Net Loss.

Is the income statement the most important financial statement? ›

Typically considered the most important of the financial statements, an income statement shows how much money a company made and spent over a specific period of time.

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