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Why does the tax year end of 5th April?

Can anyone tell me why the tax year ends when it does and not at the end of the Calendar year - or even conveniently at the end of a month?

I'm sure I read somewhere that it was to do with tax collectors of old thinking they were being short changed in the move to/from the gregorian calendar.

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Sarah Newland

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17th Feb 2005 14:21

The IR view
Obviously subject to challenge - but here's the information and explanation provided by IR:
http://www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/faqs/general.htm#7

...and here's their history of Income Tax:
http://www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/history/index.htm

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28th Jan 2005 17:11

25 March / 5 April
As per David Winch's comment, I had always understood that the move from 25 March to 5 April was related to rental quarter days and not Treasury requirements per the Google search. In those halcyon days before income tax, the Treasury presumably wasn't such a big player.

Personally, I like the tax year ending on 5 April and can't see the benefit of changing. I certainly don't want to be stuck in some bland Euro conformity like Ireland: that sort of thing is merely a comfort blanket for the small minded, bureaucrats and computers.

I do have to agree with the Irish comment, though, that a filing deadline before Christmas would be nice. What about 30 November but leaving the tax due date as 31 Jan? That way, all our Z grade clients would be forced to do some proper planning for tax due (at last) and they wouldn't have the current excuse (in their own minds) of putting it all off until "after Christmas."

On the other hand, a deadline of 20 December would be even better so I could get out of the Christmas shopping completely!

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29th Jan 2005 03:12

It all depends on who enforced that date
If I am the enforcer, I will put my girlfriend's birthdate. Who is there to argue?

If I am a Chinese, I like all soul's day rememberance date - 5 April, so that I do not forget to go to the cemetary to pray to my departed great ancesters.

If I celebrate Christmas, I would think of 24 December to remind everyone to settle their dues before celebrating 25 December.

How about 31 December? It is the end of the year and a nice date to think of New Year's celebration.

Lastly, I will be popular to set the date as 29 February so that we pay once every four years and all citizens shall thank me for my four year corporate planning strategy for great savings.

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31st Jan 2005 07:23

Very well then, let's settle at all souls day date
5 April - a day remembered by most Chinese decend who forget not the roots of their ancesters.

Come this special day every year - the tax date.

Also, this is the month Sun goes into EXALTATION.

A UK Prime Minister was also born in April.

What next? It is definitely great. April is a great month.

How nice to be born in the same month as Prime Ministers.

Adios Amiga.

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By Anonymous
28th Jan 2005 12:18

It doesn't have to be 5th April....
Here in Ireland, we had a tax year end of 5th April. An enlightened politician (normally an oxymoron - but he is an FCA) decided to change to calendar year. So, we had a short tax year from 6 April to 31 December 2001. Now our tax deadlines are in October, no fretting at Christmas etc. And it all runs smoothly now.

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By NeilW
27th Jan 2005 16:20

Gregorian Calendar.
It's to do with the switchover from the Julian to the Gregorian calender in 1752. A quick Google produces the answer as ever.

"Until 1752 the tax year in Great Britain started on 25th March, old New Year's Day. In order to ensure no loss of tax revenue, the Treasury resolved that the taxation year which started on 25th March 1752 would be of the usual length (365 days) and therefore it would end on 4th April, the following tax year beginning on 5th April. 1800 was not a leap year in the new calendar but would have been in the old Julian system. Therefore the Treasury moved their year start from 5th to 6th of April. After this logic prevailed and this date has remained unchanged ever since.
"

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27th Jan 2005 16:22

I was once told .....

Sarah

I was once told that the tax year used to end on the quarter day of 25 March but was moved when the calendar changed to preserve a 365 day year that year.

I was once told income tax was a temporary tax to finance the Napoleonic wars.

I was once told a lot of things!

I have never been told why the deadline for submitting tax returns is 31 January - which is the same day the tax is due for payment! Why not have the return deadline earlier, say 30 November?

David

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27th Jan 2005 22:47

Income Tax still is,
technically a temporary measure to finance the Napoleonic wars! The legislation is restated each year, allowing it to continue in force for another year.

On the subject of time, I was amused to find out recently that only since the 1880s has there been a standard timezone across the country. Before then, it could be 21:00 in London and maybe 21:25 in Northampton, according to whoever decided such things!

But my prize "smart-ass-down-the-pub" fact is to ask people how long they think it takes for the earth to revolve once on its axis, state that it's 23h:56m:09s and refute the "hold on, that can't be right, we'd be hours out of sync after a few months" retorts which come a few minutes later!

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28th Jan 2005 04:11

5 Apr - all souls day
It happens to be all souls day for the Chinese. Did the Chinese involved themselves in the tax year? Or was the person fixing that date a Chinese.

I think why not 22 Dec? All Chinese celebrate this day as Winter Soltice day, the most important of all celebrations in any year.

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28th Jan 2005 07:48

Tom
Don't forget to qualify whether you are defining a solar day (time taken for the sun to reach the same angular position in the sky) or a sidereal day (time taken for the rest of the heavens to do likewise). Omissions of that sort can create friction in pub quizzes!

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By Anonymous
27th Jan 2005 20:13

All those in favour....
I say we go back to the Gregorian system prior to 1997 or even the Julian one!

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28th Jan 2005 04:14

Tho Me Lee is right
I support his great ideas all along.

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By DOSHISL
28th Jan 2005 12:35

TAX RETURN DEADLINES
I WOULD LIKE COMMENTS ON HOW MANY OF THE READERS WOULD LIKE TO SEE THE DEADLINE TO PAY THE TAX DUE ON SELF ASSESSMENT TO BE CHANGED TO SAY END OF FEBRUARY INSTEAD OF COINCDING WITH 31ST JANUARY AT LEAST WE ALL WILL HAVE A MONTHS TIME TO ADVISE CLIENTS OF THE ACTUAL AMOUNT OF TAX TO PAY

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