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As the 2016-17 Tax Year Begins…

Written by Jon Cooper

Have you ever wondered why the tax year in the United Kingdom runs from 6th April to 5th April?

The reason is steeped in history. Prior to 1752, New Year’s Day in Britain was on 25th March, the Spring Quarter day, and this was also the start of the tax year.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII had reformed the calendar from the Julian predecessor to the new Gregorian version to improve accuracy with one of the changes being to stop the century years from being a leap year.

Britain essentially ignored these modifications and, by 1752, their calendar was eleven days out of sync from the rest of Europe.

To correct this, parliament decreed that Wednesday 2nd September 1752 was to be followed by Thursday 14th September 1752, a change that caused riots on the streets due to the lack of compensation for the loss of income from the short working month.

The Treasury, mindful of this public fury, moved the start of the next tax year ahead by eleven days to 5th April 1753 so that the populous was not paying a full year of tax for only 354 active days.

Although, as part of the conversion to the Gregorian calendar, New Year’s Day was moved to 1st January, the quarter days still are used as the payment periods for agricultural and commercial rents.

1800 was no longer a leap year and, therefore, in effect a day shorter than it would have been. To reflect this, the Treasury moved the start of the tax year ahead by a day to 6th April 1800 and it has continued to be 6th April ever since!

If you would like any further information on any aspect of business or personal taxation, please email us at tax@cooperfaure.co.uk or for our free downloadable 2016-17 UK Tax Guide please click here.

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