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Comparative financial statements provide historical context for a reporting entity's financial performance and enable users to identify trends or other relationships. Comparative periods should be presented on a consistent basis with any changes disclosed as a change in accounting policy or correction of an error (see FSP 30).
Figure FSP 1-1 depicts the reporting periods required by the SEC for financial statements of public companies.
Figure FSP 1-1
Audited financial statement requirements for public companies
Statement
Reporting periods required
Reference
Balance sheet
As of the end of each of the two most recent fiscal years
Statement of comprehensive income
For the three most recent fiscal years
Statement of cash flows
For the three most recent fiscal years
Statement of changes in stockholders' equity
Present in a separate statement or in the footnotes for each period a statement of comprehensive income is presented
Qualifying Emerging Growth Companies, as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, and Smaller Reporting Companies, as defined in S-K 10(f), are permitted to omit the earliest year income statement and statements of comprehensive income, cash flows, and changes in stockholders’ equity in an initial public offering. Additionally, S-X Article 8 notes that for annual financial statements, a Smaller Reporting Company should file an audited balance sheet as of the end of each of the two most recent fiscal years, and audited statements of income, cash flows, and changes in stockholders’ equity for each of the last two fiscal years.
In addition, although not required for private companies, ASC 205-10-45-2 encourages comparative statements for all entities.

ASC 205-10-45-2

In any one year it is ordinarily desirable that the statement of financial position, the income statement, and the statement of changes in equity be presented for one or more preceding years, as well as for the current year.

ASC 205-10-45-4 indicates that footnote disclosures should be repeated in the next period’s comparative statements if they continue to be of significance.
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