When Does the Quarter End?

Denise Elizabeth P
Senior Financial Editor & Contributor
Last Updated: September 27, 2021
Date Published: September 27, 2021

When we think of quarters in a year, most often we think of the standard calendar quarter dates that breaks up the 12 months of the year into 4 segments.

However, in the corporate world, quarters in a year may be structured differently.

Some companies align with the standard calendar quarter dates while others do not, and that is why it is important to understand the difference between calendar quarters and fiscal quarters.

Calendar Quarters vs Fiscal Quarters – What’s the Difference?

Calendar Quarter Dates

Calendar quarter dates simply correspond to the standard calendar year of January 1st – December 31st as follows:

  • Q1 First Quarter: January 1st – March 31st
  • Q2 Second Quarter: April 1st – June 30th
  • Q3 Thirst Quarter: July 1st – September 30th
  • Q4 Fourth Quarter: October 1st – December 31st

Fiscal Quarter Dates

Fiscal quarter dates align with a companies fiscal year and they may or may not align with the standard calendar quarter dates listed above.

If a companies fiscal quarter dates align with the standard calendar quarter dates, then the dates would be the same as follows:

  • Q1 First Quarter: January 1st – March 31st
  • Q2 Second Quarter: April 1st – June 30th
  • Q3 Thirst Quarter: July 1st – September 30th
  • Q4 Fourth Quarter: October 1st – December 31st

Non-Standard Fiscal Quarters

When a companies fiscal calendar does not align with the standard calendar quarter dates, these are called non-standard fiscal quarters.

Non-standard fiscal quarters are more commonly seen in companies who have uneven revenue streams.

For example, a holiday decor shop may generate most of its revenue during the holiday months of Q4.

To use a real world example, let’s look at Apple’s fiscal quarters:

  • Q1 – October, November, December
  • Q2 – January, February, March
  • Q3 – April, May, June
  • Q4 – July, August, September

Because Apple’s revenue is highly seasonal, they have a non-standard fiscal quarter setup.

Importance of Fiscal Quarters

Publicly traded companies are required to release financial statements for each quarter.

In the United States, these reports are called 10-Q reports and are filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Not only are these reports used for tax purposes, but they are also used by investors, shareholders, and outside parties to analyze the companies performance throughout each period.

Quarterly reports are important for the following reasons:

  • Transparency – the public can see the true financial status of a company.
  • Accountability – companies are held responsible for their financials and performance because their financial statements are filed through the SEC and made public.
  • Valuation and Analysis and Comparison – potential investors can valuate and analyze a company by reviewing their quarterly reports.
  • Consistency – Because companies can operate on different calendar quarter dates, these reports provide some consistency when looking at a company overall.

Private companies are not required to release their financial statements.

Due Dates for Quarterly Estimated Tax Payments

Self-employed individuals who pay quarterly estimated tax payments and will likely follow the standard calendar quarter dates.

Estimated tax payments are due at the beginning of each quarter for the previous quarter as follows:

QuarterEstimated Tax Payment Due Date
January 1st – March 31stApril 15th
April 1st – May 31stJune 15th
June 1 – August 31stSeptember 15th
September 1st – December 31stJanuary 15th (following year)

 

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  1. Securities and Exchange Commision "SEC Form 10-Q Quarterly Report" Page 1 . September 24, 2021

  2. IRS.gov "When to Pay Estimated Tax" Page 1 . September 24, 2021