We have previously discussed issues around changing the accounting date in 2023/24: the transition year to the ‘tax year’ basis of assessment for unincorporated businesses. The additional profits arising in the year (after set-off of any overlap profits brought forward) are ‘transition profits’, which are both ignored for adjusted net income purposes (so do not impact on income for personal allowance abatement or high-income child benefit charge purposes) and automatically spread over five years for income tax purposes, starting in 2023/24.  In some circumstances, the transition profits may still be taxed at an effective rate of up to 60%.

Example: Rohit changes the accounting date 

Rohit is a self-employed sports journalist with a 30 April year end. His profits have accrued at £8,000 per calendar month in recent years. His overlap profits brought forward are £16,000 and he has negligible other income.  He changes his accounting date to 31 March 2024 (which can be treated as a 5 April year end under the new rules).
For 2023/24, he will have:

  • Standard basis period profits (y/e 30 April 2023)            £96,000
  • Transition basis period (11 months to 31 March 2024)    £88,000

Less: overlap profits b/fwd              £(16,000)
Transition profits                               £72,000

The transition profits will be spread over five years, so the total taxable profits in 2023/24 will be:

£110,400  (£96,000 + £14,400 [1/5 (£72,000)])

The legislation 

FA 2022 Schedule 1 para 75 sets out the rules that must be applied when calculating the tax liability on the transition profits. The usual income tax calculation in ITA 2007 s 23 is amended to treat the transition profits as a separate component of total income (the transition component). This transition component is relieved in accordance with step 2 (so, for example, personal allowance and trading losses can be set against it) but is then taken out of the initial calculation of ‘net income and any following steps. The tax arising on the transition component is then brought back in as a separate amount of tax at step 4 of the calculation, being the difference between:

  • The tax payable if the transition component were included in net income after step 2 in ITA 2007, s 23; and
  • The tax is payable if the transition component were omitted from net income.

This methodology means that someone like Rohit, who normally does not pay income tax at more than 40%, will have a higher tax rate applied to their transition profits.
Rohit’s income tax liability for 2023/24

Tax liability ignoring transition profits£
Personal Allowance12,570
Taxable Income83,430
Tax: 37,700 @ 20%7,540
45,730 @ 40%18,292
Total Liability25,832 
Tax liability considering transition profits£
Net income (96,000 + 14,400)110,400
Abated PA (12,570 – ½ [110,400 – 100,000](7,370)
Taxable Income103,030
Tax: 37,700 @ 20%7,540
65,330 @ 40%26,132
Total Liability33,672

The difference in these figures is £33,672 – £25,832 = £7,840.

This is the tax liability on the transition profits in 2023/24. This gives a marginal tax rate on these profits of 7,840/14,400 = 54.44%! 

His total income tax liability for 2023/24 is therefore £25,832 plus £7,840 = £33,672.

Do not hesitate to contact us if you need assistance in understanding this legislation.