What is an Income Statement?

The Profit and Loss statement (income statement) is a tool to explain the Performance of an entity over a certain Period of Time.
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The purpose of any financial statement is to provide information about an entity’s transaction history that is USEFUL for internal and external users

You can read more about accounting and the purpose of Financial Statements here (refer to What is accounting blog). 

Financials must also be made using the Accrual Method of Accounting if prepared for external users. (refer to accrual blog).



Depending on your age, business structure, and personal preference, the Income Statement has been called many things, including:

  • Earnings Statement.

  • Statement of Earnings.

  • Profit and Loss Statement.

  • Operating Statement.

  • Statement of Operations.

  • Statement of Expenditures and Revenues



The Profit and Loss statement (income statement) is a tool to explain the Performance of an entity over a certain Period of Time.

In other words…

How did we do over the last quarter, year or few years?



The Income Statement will present either a Net Profit or (Net Loss) using the following accounts:  


Revenue (aka sales) =


Sources or inflows of assets, enhancements of assets or reductions of liabilities from operations.

In other words…

When your Core Business Function generates cash or other forms of assets 


Expenses =


Uses or outflows of assets, or increases in liabilities from operations.

In other words…

When Your Core Business Functions uses up cash or other forms of assets.  


Gains =


Increase in equity from activity that is not related to Core Business.

In other words…

If your cash or other assets increased from something you are not in business to do, it is not revenue, it is a gain.


Loss =


Decrease in equity from activity that is not related to core business.

In other words…

If your cash or other assets decreased from something you are not in business to do, it is not an expense, it is a loss”.

*Gains and Losses are very different than Revenues and Expenses because they do not relate to your core business, or what you are in the business to do.

Financial ratios, metrics, and tax returns are all impacted by proper classification.



The Income Statement is an equation where: 

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

The income statement provides answers to efficiency and profitability.

This statement explains how efficient a company is at leveraging Assets, Liabilities, and Equity transactions to generate a profit. (Refer to Balance Sheet Blog).



Financial statement ratios help users to gather the information important to analyze the entity’s past, current, and future operations:

Some ratios used from the Income Statement accounts include: 

  • Gross Profit Margin

  • Profit Margin (after tax)

  • Earnings Before Interest and Taxes (EBIT)

  • Times Interest Earned

  • Return on Equity (ROE)

  • Return on Total Assets

  • Return on Investment (ROI)

This publication is designed to provide information on federal tax and accounting laws and/or regulations. It is presented with the understanding that the author is not rendering legal or accounting services.

This text is not intended to address every situation that arises or provide specific, strategic tax and/or accounting planning advice. This text should not be used solely to answer tax and/or accounting questions and you should consult additional sources of information, as needed, to determine the solution to tax and/or accounting questions.

This text has been prepared with due diligence. However, the possibility of mechanical or human error does exist and the author accepts no responsibility or liability regarding this material and its use. This text is not intended or written by the practitioner to be used and cannot be used by a taxpayer or tax return preparer, for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed.

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