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What is an Income Statement?

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In South African accounting, an income statement, also known as a statement of comprehensive income or statement of profit or loss, is a financial statement that summarizes the revenues, expenses, gains, and losses of a business entity during a specific period. It provides a snapshot of the company’s financial performance and indicates whether it has generated a profit or incurred a loss.

The income statement in South African accounting typically follows the accrual basis of accounting, where revenues and expenses are recognised when earned or incurred, regardless of when the cash is received or paid.

The structure of an income statement in South African accounting generally includes the following key elements:

1. Revenue: This section includes the income generated from the primary activities of the business, such as sales of goods or services. It may also include other sources of revenue, such as interest income or rental income.

2. Cost of Sales or Cost of Goods Sold: This section represents the direct costs incurred to produce the goods sold or services rendered. It includes expenses like raw materials, direct labor, and manufacturing overheads directly attributable to the production process.

3. Gross Profit: Gross profit is calculated by subtracting the cost of sales from the revenue. It represents the profit earned before considering operating expenses.

4. Operating Expenses: This section includes various expenses incurred in the day-to-day operations of the business, such as salaries, rent, utilities, marketing expenses, and administrative costs.

5. Other Income and Expenses: This section includes gains or losses from non-operating activities, such as investment income, foreign exchange gains or losses, or one-time gains or losses from the sale of assets.

6. Profit before Tax: Profit before tax is derived by subtracting operating expenses and other income and expenses from the gross profit.

7. Income Tax Expense: This section represents the income tax payable based on the profit before tax, considering applicable tax rates and regulations.

8. Net Profit: Net profit is the final amount remaining after deducting income tax from the profit before tax. It indicates the company’s bottom-line profitability.

The income statement provides valuable insights into a company’s revenue generation, cost structure, and overall profitability during a specific period. It is a fundamental financial statement used by investors, creditors, and other stakeholders to evaluate the financial performance of a business entity.

It’s important to note that specific reporting requirements and formats for income statements in South Africa are governed by the Companies Act of 2008 and the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as adopted by the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA).


1. Companies Act No. 71 of 2008, available at:

2. International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), available at:

3. SAICA website – (South African Institute of Chartered Accountants)