Income Statement

The income statement displays an entity’s performance and operations for the year. The statement begins with sales revenue and deducts all relevant expenses in a progressive manner to arrive at net income for the period.

What is the income statement?

The income statement is one of three core statements, both in financial modelling and accounting. The statement displays the company’s revenue, costs, gross profit, selling and administrative expenses, other expenses and income, taxes paid and net profit in a coherent and logical manner.

The statement is divided into periods that logically follow the company’s operations. The most common periodic division would be monthly, although certain companies may use quarterly division or a thirteen-month cycle. Income statements will also often aggregate the periodic values into a full-year total.

What is its use in financial modelling?

This statement is a great place to begin the financial model, as it requires the least amount of information from the balance sheet and cash flow statement. Thus, in terms of information, the income statement is a predecessor to the other two core statements.

How to set up the income statement?

The income statement may have minor variations between different companies, as expenses and income will be dependent on the type of operations or business conducted. However, there are several generic line items that are commonly seen in the income statement.

Sales Revenue

The company’s revenue from sales or service is displayed at the very top of the statement. This value will be gross of the costs associated in creating the goods sold, or in providing the service.

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

This line-item aggregates the direct costs associated with achieving the revenue. Fixed costs and overhead are excluded.

Gross Profit

Gross profit is found by subtracting COGS from Sales Revenue.

SG&A Expenses

The selling, general and administrative section will contain all other indirect costs associated with running the business. This includes salaries of management, advertising expenses, travel expenses, and sometimes depreciation and amortization, among others. Entities may, however, elect to separate out depreciation and amortization in its own section.


While not present in all income statements, Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization is found by subtracting SG&A expenses (excl. amortization and depreciation) from gross profit.


Similarly, while not present in all income statements, Earnings before Interest and Tax is found by subtracting depreciation and amortization from EBITDA.

Interest Expense

It is common for companies to split out interest expense and interest income as a separate line item in the income statement. This is done to be able to reconcile the difference between EBIT and EBT. Interest expense is determined through the debt schedule.

EBT or Pretax Income

Earnings before tax or pretax income is found by subtracting interest expense from EBIT. This is the final subtotal before finding net income.

Income Taxes

Income taxes refer to the relevant taxes to the pre-tax income.

Net Income

After deducting income taxes from pre-tax income, the remaining amount is the net income. This is the amount that flows into retained earnings, after deductions for any cash or stock dividends.

How to build the income statement into a financial model?

After preparing the skeleton of an income statement as such, it can then be integrated into a proper financial model to forecast future performance.

Firstly, input historical data for any available time periods into the income statement. Format historical data input using a specific format to be able to differentiate between hardcoded data and calculated data. As a reminder, a common method of formatting such data is to color any hardcoded input in blue, while coloring calculated data or referenced data in black. Doing so will allow the user and reader to know where changes in inputs can be made, and to know which cells contain formulae and, as such, should not be changed or tampered with. Regardless of the formatting method chosen, however, remember to remain consistent to avoid confusion.

Next, analyze the trend in the available historic data to create drivers and assumptions for future forecasting. For example, analyze the trend in sales to forecast sales growth. Consequently, analyze the COGS as a percentage of sales to forecast future COGS.

Finally, using the drivers and assumptions prepared in the previous step, forecast future values for all the line items within the income statement. Forecast specific line items, and use these to calculate subtotals, rather than forecasting subtotals individually. For example, for future gross profit, it is better to forecast COGS and sales and subtract them from each other, rather than forecast future gross profit directly.

Feel free to peruse our free income statement template to produce a year over year income statement for your data.

What are common drivers for each line item?

Line ItemDriver or Assumption
Sales RevenueSelected growth percentage, pegged growth percentage based on index (such as GDP)
Cost of Goods SoldPercentage of sales, Fixed dollar value
SG&APercentage of sales, fixed amount, trend, fixed dollar value
Depreciation and AmortizationDepreciation Schedule
Interest ExpenseDebt Schedule
Income TaxPercentage of pre-tax income (effective tax rate)

While these drivers are commonly used, they are more of just guidelines. There are situations where intuition must be exercised to determine the proper driver or assumption to use. For example, a specific entity may have zero revenue. As such, the percentage of sales driver cannot be used for COGS. Instead, an analyst may have to rely on examining the past trend of COGS to determine assumptions for forecasting COGS into the future.

The core statements in financial modelling are the same core statements in accounting. There are three, namely the Income Statement, the Balance Sheet and the Cash Flow Statement. In a financial model, each of these statements will impact the values within the other statements.

Learn more!

To dive deeper into creating each of these statements for a financial model, check out these sections dedicated to each of the core statements:​

  • Balance Sheet
  • Cash Flow Statement