What Is Year to Date?

Year to Date Explained in Less Than 4 Minutes

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Year to date is the amount of time that has occurred since the beginning of the year to the present day. Year to date is often used to describe performance, totals, or trends in financial information since the beginning of either a fiscal or calendar year.

Examples include year-to-date return on your investments, contributions you’ve made to retirement accounts, or revenue generated by a business.

Definition and Examples of Year to Date

A year-to-date value is a running total value since the beginning of an annual period. Year to date can be measured based on either a calendar year or a fiscal year. If based on a calendar year, then a year-to-date value is the cumulative total since Jan. 1 of that year.

For example, the annual year-to-date return of a stock may be measured as the total return it has earned since Jan. 1. Assume that a hypothetical stock has a price of $18.50 on Nov. 12. Further assume it opened the year at $15 per share on Jan. 1, and for simplicity, let’s assume that it has not paid a dividend

That’s a $3.50 increase on the $15 price as of the first day you measure. The year-to-date return of that stock on Nov. 12 is 23%. 

The year-to-date return will change based on the value of the stock on the day you measure it, relative to the value of the stock on the first day of the year, $15. If on Dec. 15 the stock is worth $20, then the year-to-date return is 33%.

If the stock has paid dividends, then include those in the return. If the hypothetical stock in this example had paid a $1 dividend in the period, then the Nov. 12 year-to-date return is 30%.

  • Alternate name: YTD

How Is Year to Date Used?

Year-to-date values are used to track performance or information over time, rather than waiting to measure totals at the very end of the year.

Individuals can keep track of how much they are saving in their retirement plan, what they have earned at a job, and how much they have paid in taxes on a year-to-date basis.

Business managers often look at year to date to track business expenses periodically throughout the year. Year-to-date sales are also assessed throughout the year as a way to track performance.

Year-to-Date Examples

Year-to-Date Return

Investment returns are often presented on a year-to-date basis. This tells you how much a stock, mutual fund, or other investment has gained since the beginning of the year. 

Year-to-Date Contributions

Your pay stub will likely have a running year-to-date total of contributions to your retirement plan at work. It will be separated by contributions you have made, titled “employee contributions,” and contributions your employer has made on your behalf, known as matching contributions. This amount will be labeled as “employer contributions.”

Year-to-Date Taxes

Your pay stub will also show how much you have paid in various taxes on a year-to-date basis. This will be separated by categories such as federal income tax, FICA taxes, and state income tax, if your state has one.

Year-to-Date Revenue

Businesses will commonly measure their year-to-date revenue. They will compare it with the same figure from the same date the previous year to assess performance—for example, year-to-date revenue on June 1, 2021, versus year-to-date revenue on June 1, 2020.

Calendar Year to Date vs. Fiscal Year to Date

The difference between calendar year to date and fiscal year to date is simply when the period starts. 

A calendar year starts on Jan. 1, but a fiscal year can start at different dates chosen by a business or government. For example, Oct. 1 is a common starting date for a fiscal year.

With either a calendar or fiscal period, the year-to-date value is a cumulative total since the beginning of the annual period.

  Calendar Year to Date   Fiscal Year to Date
 Measured from Jan. 1  Measured from the beginning of the fiscal year
 Cumulative total  Cumulative total

What It Means for Individual Investors

Individual investors can check year-to-date values to see how their investments have been performing so far in the year or to see how much they have contributed to investment accounts. This measurement can show them if investment performance is lagging benchmarks, market trends, or their own previous YTD fund performance so they have time to react.

For example, if your year-to-date contributions to a retirement account are lower than you thought, you may not be on track to save as much as you had planned for the year. Knowing that before the end of the year gives you time to increase your contributions.

Key Takeaways

  • Year-to-date measurements are cumulative totals since the beginning of an annual period.
  • Can be based either on a calendar year or fiscal year.
  • Used by both businesses and individuals.