How to Calculate Percentage Change Between Two Years in Accounting

by Kirk Thomason; Updated September 26, 2017

Trend analysis is a common task in financial accounting. Accountants compare two time periods by using financial information. The difference typically shows a percentage increase or decrease in the information. Accountants use the data to determine if the company is growing or contracting. In many cases, accounting software provides different trend-analysis tools for accountants to use. One such tool is the percentage change between one or multiple years of accounting information.

Step 1

Gather two sets of financial statements. One is from the current year, such as 2010; the other is from the second previous year -- 2008, in this example.

Step 2

Subtract 2008 sales from current 2010 sales. Complete this step for each item on the income statement, using the figures from each line for the computations.

Step 3

Divide the difference in sales by 2008 sales. Complete this action for each line on the income statement, using the figures from each line for the computation.

Step 4

Note the percentage change as a positive or negative. The former indicates growth; the latter indicates contraction.


  • When conducting trend analysis, a company may decide to select a base year for the process. In this case, the data for the base year become the information to which all subsequent years must be compared to determine the financial trend.


  • "Fundamental Financial Accounting Concepts"; Thomas P. Edmonds, et al.; 2011

About the Author

Kirk Thomason began writing in 2011. In addition to years of corporate accounting experience, he teaches online accounting courses for two universities. Thomason holds a Bachelor and Master of Science in accounting.