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  • Writer's pictureGreenline Accountants

Why does the tax year start from 6th April?

While its seems like a random date to start the fiscal year from, the ever insightful Dominic Frisby, @DominicFrisby recently took to Twitter to explain in a brilliant thread, just why our tax year runs to 5th April.

England used to run on the Julian calendar, named after Julius Caesar and became much of Europe's system of dating from 46BC. Under the Julian Calendar, "New Year" was effectively the 25 March, or Lady Day. This was the Spring Equinox, with other seasonal changes marked out quarterly - Midsummer 24th June, Michaelmas 29 September and Christmas on 25 December. To such end, everything worked to these 4 quarter dates, be that rents, scholl terms etc.

Lady Day often fell between ploughing and harvesting and so was the day when new contracts were made by farmers - it became the de-facto start of the contractual year.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII introduce the Gregorian calendar - the system of dating we use today, with January 1st the first day of the year. However largely protestant England resisted changing to this system for almost 200 years, until the 1751 Calendar Act finally enforced the change.

In order to align the calendars with the rest of Europe, the government had to "lose" 11 days, and so in 1752, Wednesday 2nd September was immediately followed by Thursday 14th September.

Yet despite this, the government and landowners were still intending to collect taxes and rents due on 25th March, Lady Day as normal. The public however were upset by this loss, or "stealing" of 11 days, and so a compromise was reached such that the final payment date was delayed by 11 days to 5th April. So the new tax year now started on 6th April, 11 days after the old Spring Equinox - A system we have followed since.

Sourced from @dominicfrisby, well worth both a follow on twitter and his great podcast the Flying Frisby.


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