What Is the Meaning of Fiscal?


People can use the word "fiscal" as a noun or an adjective, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. The most common noun form is "fiscal year," which refers to a company's 12-month accounting period. Fiscal also can be used in relation to a tax or revenue stamp for marking official documents. The use of fiscal as an adjective is very common in business and government publications, as in the terms fiscal policy, fiscal period and fiscal agent.

Fiscal Policy

Fiscal policy refers to a government's budgetary practices. In the United States, the president, state governors and city mayors propose budgets that are then modified, approved or rejected by their respective legislative counterparts. The budget is an annual document that contains revenue, expenditures, surplus and deficit projections. The term "fiscal deficit" refers to budgetary deficits, which occur when expenditures exceed revenues. Expansionary fiscal policy refers to changes in tax policy and government spending to stimulate the economy. Governments that run high fiscal deficits have limited budgetary flexibility.

Fiscal Period

A fiscal period or accounting period is the more general form for a fiscal year. It usually refers to a month, quarter or year. The fiscal periods of public sector and nonprofit organizations usually coincide with the calendar year. However, private sector companies, including publicly traded companies, often have fiscal years that start on April 1, July 1 or the first of some other month. When they report their quarterly earnings, these companies specify whether the reports are for the first, second, third or fourth quarters, or for the full fiscal year. For example, if the fiscal period of a company starts on July 1, then its first quarter ends on Sept. 30.

Fiscal Agent

Government organizations and companies engage fiscal agents for advice on financial matters, such as fund management and securities underwriting. For example, the Bank of Canada and the U.S. Federal Reserve are the fiscal agents of their respective governments, performing debt management and treasury management functions. A fiscal agent is sometimes known as a custodial agent or a trustee.

Other Meanings

Fiscal court, according to the Kentucky Constitution of 1891, means the governing body in each county. Procurator fiscal refers to crown prosecutors in Scotland, who also investigate suspicious deaths and fatal accidents. Fiscal cancellation is the marking of a revenue stamp by a pen, pencil or rubber stamp to reduce or eliminate its value.

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