When starting out one of the decisions you will need to make is which date to use for your accounting date or year end.
It is easiest if your accounting year follows the tax year which runs 6th April to 5th April – your accounting date / year end is therefore 5th April. Your accounting periods and basis periods (period for which you are assessed for tax) would then be the same:-
First year: Date you started the business to 5th April
Second & following years: 6th April to 5th April
Note: If you want to do monthly reporting for your business and prefer an end of month date for end of year HMRC will accept 31st March as if it were 5th April.
There are special rules for basis periods in the early years of trading which mean that if you decide not to follow the tax year and use a different accounting date, for example 31st December, there will be an overlap period in the first couple of years of trading due to the fact that the basis period and accounting period do not match. Profits made in the overlap period are taxed twice.
Taking a business that starts trading on 1st January 2020 and chooses 31st December as an accounting date the basis periods in the first couple of years would be as follows:-
First year: 1st January 2020 to 5th April 2020 (first year is always start date to end of tax year)
Second year: 1st January 2020 to 31st December 2020 (2nd year rules are more complicated but in this instance the basis period would be the 12 months to the accounting date).
As you can see the period 1st January 2020 to 5th April 2020 is in both basis periods causing an overlap.
Businesses may also need to apportion profits where a basis period only covers a part of the accounting period or crosses different accounting periods.
Tax which has been paid twice can be reclaimed when the business stops trading or on change of accounting date.
The next post discusses keeping records.