...a blog by Richard Flowers

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Day 1919: Taxing


The 5th of April is the last day of the tax year.

Since my Daddy is an accountant he has told me about this and I DO NOT SEE why I should be the ONLY ONE who is BORED RIGID by it.

A long time ago, it used to be the case that EVERYONE had to pay their rents and taxes over to the KING or the local LORD or whatever version of MR FROWN they were saddled with at the time. And they had until the QUARTER DAYS to do this.

The QUARTER DAYS were (basicaly) MIDSUMMER’S DAY and MIDWINTERS’S DAY and the SPRING EQUINOX and the AUTUMN EQUINOX, which in practice meant: June the 24th (or Midsummer); September the 29th (also called MICHAELMAS – say “ooh!”); December 25th (guess!); and (and this is the BIGGIE and, as it happens, LADY DAY) March 25.

HOWEVER! In September 1752 Britain changed the calendar from the JULIAN calendar to the GREGORIAN calender (which keeps better time and give you leap years!). In order to catch up, they skipped out eleven days – people went to bed on September 2nd and when they woke up again it was September 14th.

And you thought YOU had it rough when the clocks went forward a fortnight ago!

Now, you won’t be remotely surprised to hear that SIR PIGBY JONES of the CBI immediately complained very loudly that this was horribly unfair on the hardwoking British businessman as they would have eleven less days in which to gouge their taxes out of their serfs.

So, and finally we get to the punchline, the King agreed to move the payment date back by eleven days from March 25th to – you guessed it – April 5th.

And a HAPPY NEW TAX YEAR to all of you at home.

Of course, what happened to those eleven days is another matter entirely!

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