History lesson anyone? 5th April explained...
The Office for Tax Simplification (yes, this actually exists!) has confirmed that it is looking at moving the UK tax year end from 5 April...but why is it the 5 April? I hear you ask
They are looking at 2 possible dates, one being 31 March, the closest year end and the UK financial year end.
The other is 31 December, which is in line with US, France, Germany and Ireland.
But why is it the 5 April? I hear you ask
To explain it we need a potted history lesson....
The Julian calendar came into force in 45 BC, and was named after Julius Caesar. This calendar was pretty accurate, but differed from the solar calendar by 11.5 minutes. This discrepancy would not have been noticed initially, but by the 16th century the difference had built up to 10 days!
Pope Gregory XIII ordered the calendar to be changed reducing the length of each year from 365.25 days to 365.2425 days, a reduction of 10 minutes and 48 seconds each calendar year, get your calculator out and run the sums....
The Gregorian calendar came into force in parts of Europe in 1582.
By 1752 Britain was now 11 days off from the rest of Europe when they decided to adopt the Gregorian calendar.
With the change to the Gregorian calendar, 4 September 1752 was followed by 15 September 1752, a loss of 11 days.
In Britain, the financial year began on 25 March, the old New Year’s Day. So the year starting 25 March 1752 to the following 24 March 1753 would be 11 days short – 11 days short of income for the workers and 11 days short of taxes for the Treasury.
To compensate for this, the end of the financial year was pushed back to 5 April 1753, with the following tax year starting on 5 April 1753. This carried on until 1800, which would have been a leap year in the old Julian calendar, but was not a leap year in the new Gregorian calendar. In this year the UK tax year was moved to 6 April from 5 April by the Treasury, and has remained ever since.
While the Office of Tax Simplification is looking at changing the tax year end, my personal request is that they also look at changing the tax return filing date from 31 January. The request is made as accountants so chained to their desks over the Christmas break, willing their clients to PLEASE send in their records, because we would quite like a break too...