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What is the purpose of the cash flow statement?

The purpose of the cash flow statement or statement of cash flows is to provide information about a company's gross receipts and gross payments for a specified period of time.

The gross receipts and gross payments will be reported in the cash flow statement according to one of the following classifications: operating activities, investing activities, and financing activities. The net change from these three classifications should equal the change in a company's cash and cash equivalents during the reporting period. For instance, the cash flow statement for the calendar year 2013 will report the causes of the change in a company's cash and cash equivalents between its balance sheets of December 31, 2012 and December 31, 2013.

In addition to the cash amounts being reported as operating, investing, and financing activities, the cash flow statement must disclose other information, including the amount of interest paid, the amount of income taxes paid, and any significant investing and financing activities which did not require the use of cash.

The statement of cash flows is to be distributed along with a company's income statement and balance sheet.