What are extraordinary items, and how are they represented in an Income Statement?

Extraordinary items refer to rare, unusual events significantly impacting a company's finances, like natural disasters. They are reported separately after income from continuing operations on the Income Statement to distinguish their non-recurring nature.

Extraordinary items are rare, non-recurring events that significantly affect a company's financial position and are not considered part of its core operating activities. These events are typically unusual in nature, infrequent, and have a significant impact on a company's earnings.

Examples of extraordinary items might include natural disasters, expropriation of assets, or gains/losses from early retirement of debt.

In financial statements, specifically in the Income Statement, extraordinary items are shown separately from the company's regular operating activities. They are disclosed net of tax and listed below the income from continuing operations section, often labeled as "Income (or Loss) from Extraordinary Items, net of tax." This allows analysts and investors to differentiate between the company's ongoing operational performance and these exceptional, one-time events that aren't expected to recur regularly.

However, it's essential to note that accounting standards have evolved, and as of recent updates (such as under U.S. GAAP and IFRS), the treatment of extraordinary items has changed. Under current standards, the concept of extraordinary items has been phased out in favor of presenting unusual or infrequent items within the income from continuing operations if they meet specific criteria outlined by accounting standards.

Identifying and Reporting Extraordinary Items in Financial Statements..

Identifying and reporting extraordinary items in financial statements is a crucial aspect of financial reporting, as it helps users understand the true underlying performance of a company. Extraordinary items are those that are both unusual and infrequent in nature, and they are presented separately from operating income to provide a clearer picture of a company's ongoing operations.

Identifying Extraordinary Items

Determining whether an event qualifies as an extraordinary item requires careful consideration of its characteristics. The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) previously defined extraordinary items as those that meet the following criteria:

  1. Unusual Nature: The event or transaction must be distinctly different from the normal activities of the company.

  2. Infrequent Occurrence: The event or transaction is not expected to occur repeatedly in the near future.

  3. Material Impact: The event or transaction must have a significant impact on the company's financial statements.

Reporting Extraordinary Items

Under the current Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), extraordinary items are no longer reported separately. Instead, they are classified as nonrecurring items and presented within the income statement below operating income. However, the disclosure requirements for nonrecurring items remain the same as they were for extraordinary items.

Disclosure Requirements

Companies are required to provide detailed disclosures about nonrecurring items, including:

  1. Nature and Amount: Provide a clear explanation of the event or transaction and disclose the gross amount of the gain or loss.

  2. Effect on Income Taxes: Disclose the income tax effect of the nonrecurring item.

  3. Frequency of Occurrence: Explain whether the event or transaction is expected to recur in the future.

Impact on Financial Analysis

Extraordinary items can significantly distort a company's financial performance in a given period, making it difficult for users to assess its underlying profitability. By presenting extraordinary items separately, users can better understand the company's ongoing operations and make more informed decisions.


While the concept of extraordinary items has been eliminated from GAAP, the identification and disclosure of nonrecurring items remain essential for accurate financial reporting. By carefully evaluating and disclosing nonrecurring items, companies can provide a clearer picture of their true financial performance and help users make informed investment decisions.