In Rupert Grint v HMRC [2019] UKUT 0028 the Upper Tribunal (UT) confirmed that Harry Potter star Rupert Grint's accounts did not meet the requirements for a change of accounting date for tax; the accounting period was too long.

Section 217 ITTOIA 2015 sets out the conditions for a change in accounting date by the self-employed: one condition being that your new accounting period must not exceed 18 months.

  • Mr Grint's accountants initially drew up accounts for a 20 month period, for discussion, and these had been approved by the actor.
  • He was advised to extend his accounting period so that more of his acting profits fell into the 2009/10 tax year, this was in order to avoid the 50% tax rate introduced in 2010/11.
  • His accounting periods were changed by his accountants when his tax return was prepared.
  • The dispute centred over whether the tax return entries trumped the first set of accounts.

The FTT made a detailed examination of accounts, and concluded that the first set of accounts were the accounts of the buiness for the purpose of s217.

On appeal, the UT confirmed the FTT's conclusions: the original accounts were the valid accounts and they were too long. The 18 month condition in s217 was not met.

Comment

HMRC were alerted to this issue during a VAT control visit, having previously accepted the change in accounting date. HMRC officers attending had sight of a set of accounts which spanned 20 months and had been approved by Mr Grint and it was realised that these accounts were made up for a different period than reported under self assessment.

Links to our useful guides:

Accounting periods and tax basis periods
Which date do I choose? Does it matter? Can I change my accounting date? A practical tax guide to accounting periods and tax basis periods.

Tax planning for income at marginal tax rates
A guide showing the different income tax bands and marginal rates that apply for earned and investment income and strategies for avoiding higher rates of tax, the HICBC and the claw back of personal allowances.

Accounts tax health check: self-employed
A checklist that will provide you with a lot of pointers to key areas for discussion with sole trader clients.

External links:

Rupert Grint V HMRC [2018] UKUT 0028 

FTT decision: Rupert Grint V HMRC [2019] TC05286

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