What’s included in a profit and loss account?

We’re about to break down exactly what makes up your profit and loss account.

But first, a note.

If you’re using automated accounting software (and we hope you are!), you may want to double-check that you’re correctly classing each expense as direct costs (which impact gross profit) and operating/overhead expenses. You can find instructions on how to do it in Xero, here.

Income
Cost of sales / Direct costs
Gross profit
Operating expenses
Shareholder remuneration
Non-cash expenses
Non-deductible expenses
Net profit or loss

Income

Also known as sales or revenue, income can come from:

  • Selling goods
  • Providing services
  • Clients reimbursing certain expenses
  • Earning interest

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Cost of sales / Direct costs

These expenses relate directly to the sale of goods or services*.

  • Opening stock
  • Purchases of goods (products to sell)
  • Purchase of raw materials (for processing, then selling)
  • Purchases of materials (materials used in the construction industry)
  • Freight and packaging – bringing materials and goods to you, and delivering to customers
  • Commission paid to salespeople
  • Contractors and subcontractors
  • Maintenance of factory plant and machinery (the more units produced, the more maintenance is required)
  • Wages for factory workers (if they’re based on units produced, rather than per hour)
  • Closing stock

Not all businesses will have a cost of sales section. It’s usually only applicable when you’re selling goods or performing work that involves raw materials (e.g. construction). Those in the service industry are likely to exclude this section and only have expenses of an operating nature.

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Gross profit

After deducting any costs of sales from income, you have the gross profit. These should be enough to cover operating expenses.

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Operating expenses

These are costs that generally remain consistent, no matter the level of sales.

  • Advertising
  • Bank fees
  • Computer and IT expenses
  • Insurance
  • Interest
  • Office rent
  • Power
  • Printing, postage, and stationery
  • Professional fees (legal, accounting, consulting)
  • Telephone and internet
  • Salaries
  • Staff expenses

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Shareholder remuneration (for companies)

A shareholder may be remunerated (paid) in one of two ways:

  • Paid wages as a regular employee, with PAYE, Kiwisaver deducted; or
  • A shareholder salary calculated by an accountant when preparing the end-of-year financial statements – this is applicable in situations when the company profit is being partially or fully allocated to shareholders

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Non-cash expenses
  • Depreciation of property, plant, and equipment
  • Gains or losses on the sale of assets
  • Certain accountant adjustments
    • Shareholder salary
    • Reimbursing a shareholder for using part of the home as an office
    • Adjusting for a shareholder’s private use of a company vehicle

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Net profit (loss) before taxation and adjustments

This is what’s shown as taxable income in your tax return. It represents the business income, minus the expenses that can be claimed for tax purposes.

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Non-deductible expenses

These are business expenses that can’t be deducted from taxable income:

  • A portion of entertainment expenses
  • Certain legal expenses
  • Fines and penalties
  • Initial costs of setting up your business
  • Income tax

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Net profit or loss for the year

The non-deductible expenses cannot be claimed as tax deductions, but they are still business expenses. After taking those into account, we arrive at the net profit or loss.

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