Understanding HMRC’s Basis Period Reform: What Sole Traders and Partnerships Need to Know

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There are changes coming for sole traders (not a limited company) who do not have a tax year ended 31 March or 5 April, so if your year end is one of those then you do not need to worry about the basis period reform rules and can rest easy. If you have a different year end, then please read on.


In a bid to streamline the taxation process and reduce complexities for sole traders and partnerships, HMRC is introducing Basis Period Reform from 6 April 2024. This reform will alter how taxable profits are calculated, particularly impacting businesses with accounting periods that don’t align with the tax year.

The Current Scenario: At present, businesses calculate their taxable profits based on their accounting period, which can end at various points during the tax year. However, with the Basis Period Reform, unincorporated businesses will pay tax based on the profits earned during the entire tax year.

Impacted Businesses:

This change will affect sole traders and partnerships with an accounting period end date falling outside 31 March and 5 April, as well as new businesses commencing operations from 6 April 2024.

Understanding the Calculations:

The basis period for the 2023/24 tax year will comprise two parts: the client’s accounting year and an additional part that extends to the end of the 2024 tax year. For instance, a client with a 31 December year-end will report on their accounting period from 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2023, plus a transitional period from 1 January 2024 to 31 March 2024, resulting in a 15-month profit consideration for the 2023/24 income tax return.

Transitional Impact on Tax Bills:

In the transitional year, tax bills will be higher for clients with an accounting date misaligned with the tax year, as they’ll be based on profit calculated over a longer basis period. However, HMRC is offering relief by allowing taxpayers to spread overlapping profits over five years.

Overlap Relief and Double Taxation:

New businesses often face double taxation challenges in their early years, and those commencing operations midway through the tax year may be entitled to overlap relief. The Basis Period Reform will alleviate these issues, making claims for overlap relief and addressing double taxation a thing of the past.


HMRC’s Basis Period Reform is a significant step towards simplifying tax calculations for sole traders and partnerships, ensuring a more consistent and fair approach to tax assessments. It’s essential for affected businesses to understand these changes and work closely with tax professionals to navigate the transitional phase smoothly and make informed financial decisions. Stay tuned for HMRC’s further updates and the implementation of online tools to facilitate a seamless transition into the new tax calculation system.

This blog is meant for informational purposes only and should not be considered as financial or legal advice. The content provided here is based on general information and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice. Financial and legal matters are complex and can vary based on individual circumstances. Always consult with a qualified financial advisor or legal professional before making any decisions related to shares, taxation, or any financial transactions. Any actions taken based on the information provided in this blog are at your own risk. We disclaim all liability for any actions you take or fail to take based on any content in this blog.

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