UK Tax Year Explained

Have you ever wondered why the UK tax year falls on the 6 April every year? Knowing the tax dates helps to plan your financial paperwork and limit the chance of a last minute rush to get everything in order. While some countries set their tax year in accordance to the calendar year, the UK requires the new tax to fall on a seemingly random date! Whether you’re self-employed or employed, tax dates are good to know and affect us all in some way.

What is the Tax Year in the UK?

A tax year, also referred to as the financial year, starts on 6 April and runs to 5 April. All the tax rates and allowances you see relate to a single tax year and most change on 6th April at the start of each new tax year.

Why Does the Tax Year Start on 6 April?

The reason each UK tax year starts on 6 April dates back to medieval times! Back in the 1500s, the UK used what was known as the Julian Calendar (named after Julius Caesar).

In the Julian Calendar, the New Year started on 25 March. This is suspected to match the spring season but more importantly, it differed from the solar calendar by 11.5 minutes.

In order to iron out this difference, towards the end of the 1500s Europe changed to the Gregorian Calendar. However, the UK continued using the Julian Calendar.

By the 1700s the UK was 11 days out of alignment with the rest of Europe. To fix the problem in 1752, those 11 days were simply cut out of the year!

In spite of this, the government didn’t want to lose out on taxes so they added 11 days to the end of the year. As a consequence of this, the tax year restarted on 6 April.

And there you have it! Now that you know the reasons behind the UK tax year dates, you’re likely to remember it better and avoid missing those deadlines to get your financial affairs in order.

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About Anita Forrest

Anita Forrest is a Chartered Accountant, spreadsheet geek and money nerd helping financial DIY-ers organise their money so they can hit their goals quicker.