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Fiscal Lifecycle

The first and most important lifecycle to examine is the fiscal cycle. Fiscal patterns are pretty much the same whether an organization is large or small, a for-profit or nonprofit, a publicly traded conglomerate or a privately held business, a government department or an educational institution. All organizations must pay taxes, prove their nonprofit status, or collect taxes, usually quarterly or annually.

All organizations have a fiscal year. In some organizations the fiscal year has the same dates as the calendar year. A new calendar year always starts on January 1, has 12 months, and always ends on December 31. A fiscal year also has 12 months, but it may begin on the first date of any month. It ends on the last day of the month that falls 12 months later. Many organizations align their fiscal years to begin and end on the same dates as the calendar year. Many others do not. Microsoft, for example, begins its fiscal year on July 1. The U.S. federal government begins its fiscal year on October 1.


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