Stephen J. Dann
~ ITPA ~
UK Tax Advisor

The History of 5th April

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The government's financial year originally ended on Michaelmas Day, 29th September. In 1752, on the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, the calendar year "lost" a total of eleven days. The financial year was not, however, shortened and therefater ended on 10th October, the equivalent of the former 29th September after adding back the lost eleven days. The Quarter days for public accounting purposes were also changed by eleven days so at the Christmas Quarter day moved forward to 5th January, Lady Day from 25th March to 5th April, and Midsummer from 24th June to 5h July.

In 1799, the government's accounting period was altered to end on 5th January to bring it into line with the Trade and Navigation accounts and the then current commercial practice. This was the position up to 1832. Estimates of future expenditure and the Budget proposals were always presented to parliament at much the same time as they are today which meant that parliament could not consider the main financial proposals for the year until some time after the year had begun. In order to correct this position, Lord Althorp introduced his budget for the year 1832 to run for the fifteen months from 6h January, 1832 to 5th April, 1833 and thereafter the budget financial year ended on 5th April. Income tax, which had been abolished since 1817, was re-introduced by Sir Robert Peel in 1842 and the income tax year was based on the budget year ending on 5th April.

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