What is Cash Flow After Taxes (CFAT)? Definition, How It Works, Types, and Examples


Cash Flow After Taxes (CFAT) or after-tax cash flow is a pivotal financial metric used to evaluate a company’s operational cash flow, considering non-cash expenses. This assessment of a company’s financial health involves adjustments to the net income, providing a clearer picture of its financial standing. CFAT aids investors in gauging a company’s ability to meet financial obligations, make investments, and potentially distribute dividends. However, it doesn’t encompass the cash required for acquiring fixed assets, which limits its comprehensive view of a company’s financial operations.

Understanding cash flow after taxes (CFAT)

Cash Flow After Taxes (CFAT) represents the net cash generated by a company’s operations after considering taxes. It’s a crucial measure used to assess a business’s ability to generate cash flow, focusing on the impact of taxes on profits. CFAT is derived by adjusting the net income figure to account for non-cash expenses such as depreciation, amortization, and other non-cash charges. These adjustments enable a more accurate evaluation of a company’s operational cash flow, allowing stakeholders to make informed decisions.

Calculation and components of CFAT

CFAT is calculated by adding non-cash expenses such as depreciation and amortization back to the net income. This provides a more realistic representation of the cash generated by a company’s operational activities. The components involved in CFAT calculations include:

  • Net income: The initial figure representing a company’s profits.
  • Depreciation: Reflects the decrease in the value of assets over time, but it’s a non-cash expense.
  • Amortization and other non-cash charges: Expenses that don’t involve actual cash outflow.

The formula for CFAT is straightforward:

CFAT = Net Income + Depreciation + Amortization + Other Non-Cash Charges

It’s important to note that depreciation, despite being recorded as an expense, is added back in CFAT calculations because it doesn’t involve cash outflow.

Significance of CFAT for investors

Investors and financial analysts use CFAT to evaluate a company’s financial viability for potential investments. By examining CFAT, they can assess the company’s capability to meet financial obligations, invest in fixed assets, and potentially distribute dividends or cash. A higher CFAT generally indicates a company’s better potential to make distributions. However, it’s essential to recognize that a positive CFAT doesn’t guarantee overall financial stability for such disbursements.

Moreover, CFAT serves as a valuable tool for evaluating a company’s financial health and performance over time, especially when compared against competitors in the same industry. It’s important to consider that different industries have varying levels of capital intensity and, consequently, different levels of depreciation. While CFAT offers insights into a company’s ability to generate positive cash flows after accounting for income taxes, it doesn’t encompass the cash needed for acquiring fixed assets.

Additional considerations in CFAT calculation

Aside from the basic components, some specific considerations are essential in understanding and calculating CFAT:

Tax rates

Different tax rates and regulations significantly impact CFAT. Lower tax rates mean a higher CFAT, as the company retains more of its income after taxes.

Non-cash charges

Considering different non-cash charges is crucial. While depreciation and amortization are commonly added back to calculate CFAT, understanding other non-cash charges is essential for a more accurate representation of operational cash flow.


Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

  • Assesses a company’s operational cash flow accurately
  • Helps in comparing a company’s performance within its industry
  • Indicates the potential for making cash distributions
  • Doesn’t consider cash spent on acquiring fixed assets
  • Positive CFAT doesn’t guarantee financial health for cash distributions

Frequently asked questions

Why is CFAT important for investors?

CFAT is crucial for investors as it gauges a company’s ability to meet financial obligations, make necessary investments, and potentially distribute dividends. It aids in evaluating a company’s financial health and performance against industry competitors.

How does CFAT impact a company’s dividend payments?

CFAT can indicate a company’s potential to pay dividends. However, a positive CFAT doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a company is in a healthy financial position to pay out dividends. It’s essential to consider other financial aspects and obligations before solely relying on CFAT for assessing dividend payments.

What are the limitations of CFAT?

CFAT primarily focuses on operational cash flow and doesn’t consider the cash required for acquiring fixed assets. This limitation can lead to an incomplete assessment of a company’s overall financial operations.

Key takeaways

  • CFAT measures a company’s operational cash flow after adjusting for non-cash charges.
  • A higher CFAT indicates potential for making distributions but doesn’t assure overall financial health.
  • It’s essential for investors to analyze CFAT to understand a company’s financial viability.
View Article Sources
  1. After Tax Cash Flow – The Pennsylvania State University
  2. Accounting Notes – Statement of Cash Flows – Alamo Colleges District
  3. After-Tax Cash Flow (ATCF) – University of Wisconsin-Madison
  4. Unleashing the Power of Free Cash Flow to the Firm (FCFF) – SuperMoney