Section 208: When the late accounting date rules apply
845.This is the first of three sections whose purpose is to simplify the normal operation of the basis period rules in particular circumstances. They avoid the creation of very short overlaps (less than six days) between basis periods - and therefore small amounts of overlap profit. They are based on the non-statutory practice described in paragraph 71170 of the Business Income Manual.
846.That practice benefits taxpayers who, at the start of trading, prepare accounts to 31 March - a popular accounting date. They allow the accounts for the opening years to be treated as though they were prepared to 5 April.
847.And because it would be illogical to exclude cases where the chosen accounting date would result in overlaps even shorter than those arising from an accounting date of 31 March, accounts prepared to 1 to 4 April are also included. See Change 55 in Annex 1.
848.Despite the simple purpose of this provision it gives rise to some complex issues. As well as covering those cases involving accounts prepared to dates between 30 March and 5 April, it needs also to deal with cases where:
trading begins late in the tax year (that is, after 31 March); or
the first account is for a period longer than 12 months.
849.And it has to ensure that:
the application of the rule remains optional (some taxpayers may, depending on their own particular circumstances, wish their opening profits to be dealt with under the normal rules); and
no profits are assessed twice or slip out of account.
850.For these reasons the rules are set out in three sections. The first section (section 208) sets the scene and the two following sections (sections 209 and 210) state the rules depending on whether or not there is an actual accounting date in the tax year.
851.Section 208 sets the scene by stating the purpose of the rules and when they can apply.
852.Subsection (2) applies the relevant rules. Most taxpayers with a late accounting date will probably wish to take advantage of these rules. So the rules apply automatically unless the taxpayer “elects out”. See Change 54 in Annex 1.
853.Subsection (3)(b) refers to the intention of the taxpayer. This addresses practical difficulties that arise when the accounting date is only an intended accounting date at the time the return is made.
854.Subsection (4) states the time limit for an opt out election. It has been made as straightforward as possible by adopting the procedures and time limits of the Self Assessment cycle.