Basis Period Reform: The Problem With Estimated Figures

HMRC is seeking views on methods that owners of unincorporated businesses with an accounting year-end that differs from the tax year-end could use to estimate their tax returns ...

On the 6th of April 2024, basis period rules that apply to unincorporated businesses will be abolished. From 2024/25 onwards, any owner of trading businesses should report the taxable profits on a tax year basis.

"Transitional rules apply for 2023/24!"

This change could cause difficulties for businesses that have a differing year-end from the tax year-end. Profits for a particular tax year will be a proportion of the profits for the accounting years that fall partially within the tax year.

As an example, in the tax year 2024/25 a business has a 28th of February accounting period date. They would take 329 days of the results for their year ending the 28th of February 2025 and 36 days for the period to the 28th of February 2026. Their return would be due by the 31st of January 2026.

Within the scope of the existing rule, estimates which are used in a tax return which are then amended when the final results are known must be made to the tax return as soon as possible. The business then has 30 days to pay any additional tax after the date of the amendment.

"HMRC recognises this may create significant admin burdens for some businesses!

So, they are consulting on alternative options for correcting these estimated figures. The Government is likely to assess each potential option:

- Amend estimated figure when filing the following year's tax return
- Provide extensions to filing deadlines
- Reflect amendments to the current year in the following year's tax return

They may even introduce an 'ignore adjustment' de minimis threshold.

So, these Basis Period reforms may force HMRC to accept a degree of error between figures filed originally and those that are adjusted and, as this could lead to tax avoidance activities on the part of some unscrupulous business owners, the Government wants to be absolutely sure they've covered every loophole.

If you'd like to find out more about anything I've written here, do call me on 01908 774323 or leave a comment below and let's see how I can help you.