HMRC Changing How Sole Traders & Partnership Profits are Assessed

How HMRC calculates profits for those sole traders and partnerships using accounting dates between 6 April and 30 March is set to change from 6 April 2023. This change will not affect companies.

Your accounting date is the last day of the period that you prepare your accounts for. You choose your accounting date when you set up your business and will normally make your accounts up to that date every year. Under the current rules, you’re taxed on profits for the accounting date that ends in a given tax year. Say if your accounting date is 30 November, for the 2022-2023 tax year you will be taxed on profits in your 30 November 2022 accounts.


From 6 April 2024, you will be assessed on profits for each tax year that runs from 6 April to 5 April. This change will affect how you fill in your tax return if you use an accounting date between 6 April and 30 March. The way your profits are assessed if you use an accounting date between 31 March and 5 April will not change. There will be a transition year from 6 April 2023 to 5 April 2024 to allow any overlap relief that you may be due to be used against your profits for that tax year. You may be due overlap relief from when you started to trade, or if you subsequently changed your accounting date.


The changes will mean the amount of tax you owe in the 2023-2024 tax year may change if you use an accounting date between 6 April and 30 March. You will be assessed on: The 12-month accounting period you previously used (the one that ends in 2023/24) and the rest of the 2023 to 2024 tax year minus any overlap relief that you may be due spread over 2022/23 and the next 4 tax years. You can spread ‘excess’ profits over a shorter period if you wish. Example (assuming no overlap relief is available):

  • accounting period is from 1 January to 31 December.
  • assessable profit is £32,000 from 1 Jan 2023 to 31 Dec 2023.
  • assessable profit is £18,000 from 1 Jan 2024 to 5 April 2024.
  • £18,000 profit divided equally, assessed over 5 years, £3,600 a year (£18,000 by 5).
  • In 2023-24 tax year, total assessable profits will be £35,600 (£32,000 plus £3,600).
  • Any increased profits from 2023-2024 tax year will be treated in a special way to minimise impact on benefits and allowances


If you set an accounting date between 6 April and 30 March when you started your business, or subsequently changed your accounting date, you may’ve paid tax twice on some of your profits and be entitled to ‘overlap relief’.

Usually, businesses can only use overlap relief to get this tax back when they stop trading or change their accounting date. However, HMRC will allow a business with unused overlap relief to use it in the 6 April 2023 to 5 April 2024 transition year. In the example above, any overlap relief would be deducted from the £18,000 in step 3, also thereby reducing the profits spread over the subsequent 4 tax years. Please speak to us about how much overlap relief you may be due in the future.


You do not have to change your accounting period and can continue to use whatever accounting date suits your business. However, you may want to consider changing your accounting date to 31 March or 5 April. If you do, this will align your accounting period with the end of the tax year, you will not need to apportion profits on your tax return every year.

HMRC has confirmed that the restrictions on changing your accounting date that are currently in place, will be lifted starting from the tax return for 2023-2024. If you change your accounting date in your tax return for a year before 2023 to 2024, you will not be able to spread any extra profits that arise in the tax year you made the change in.

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