The dates for closing accounts normally correspond to the end of the calendar year. A company may, however, choose a different date to suit its requirements.
The financial year generally covers a 12-month period and corresponds to the calendar year (January 1–December 31). An entrepreneur may, if necessary, choose a different date.
Duration of the first financial year
In the year that the company is created, the entrepreneur can choose between a short financial year—which finishes at the end of the first financial year—or a long financial year, which finishes at the end of the following financial year. For example, if the company is created on July 1 and the accounts are closed on December 31, you can choose between a financial year lasting six or 18 months. In some cantons, the maximum duration of the first financial year is up to 23 months, and in other cantons this is limited to 15 months. The fiscal laws of each canton fix the maximum duration allowed for the first financial year.
As a company experiences significant costs during the first financial year, a long financial year can prove to be the best option in cantons which do not apply the standard corporation tax. This can be advantageous fiscally, as start-up costs can be offset by later revenue.
Financial year for seasonal businesses
For seasonal businesses (tourism, construction, etc.), it is wise to choose a date for closing the accounts that ensures that the whole season is covered. For tax reasons, the closing date must be before the seasonal peak, as a pre-season fully-stocked warehouse can favour building up reserves.