Lisa's week

lisas week teaser

Lisa's week: Left over from the Middle Ages!

There’s a lot to talk about on the calendar at this time of year and this week is no exception. 

This is because when I look at my diary this week and see the 5th and 6th April I’m never failed to be reminded that this is the end of the tax year back home in the UK, and the beginning of the next. Yes, in the UK, the personal tax year ends on 5th April and the new tax year starts on the 6th. “Why on earth is that?”, I hear you cry, and I have to confess to thinking exactly the same. So I took the opportunity to look it up for “Lisa’s Week” and found out that it goes back a LONG time. All the way back to 1582 in fact.

Now, this is a complicated story so let me try and simplify it for us all.

The connection is that pesky change to the Gregorian calendar (yes, we talked about that last week too), which changed the Julian calendar to match the solar calendar. Without getting into details, the Julian year was 11 ½ minutes longer than a solar year and by the 1500s, this had added up to a lot of days difference (around 10 days) which made the Church concerned that Easter was getting later and later. So Pope Gregory XIII instituted the new Gregorian calendar in October 1582 to years consisting of 365 days with an extra day in a Leap Year every four years, of which three would be left out every 400 years according to papal decree “Inter Gravissimas”. Confused? You will be!

Of course, at this time in history, relations between England and the Roman Catholic church were not as good as it could have been, and they decided to continue with the Julian calendar.

However, in 1752 England was now 11 days out of alignment with the rest of Europe and, realising that they would have to change their calendar, decided to drop 11 days in September. In that year, 2nd September was immediately followed by 14th September.

To get back to the tax question, the four most important days on the religious calendar – Lady Day on 25th March, Midsummer on 24th June, Michaelmas on 29th September and Christmas Day on 25th December were considered to be the year’s “quarter days” when all debts and accounts needed to be settled. Lady Day had become known as the start of the year and therefore the start of the tax year too. When the change to the new calendar occurred, New Year was moved to 1st January to match the rest of Europe but it was decided that the tax year should still be 365 days long – starting on 25th March 1752 and ending on 4th April 1753! The final complication was in the year 1800 when the Gregorian calendar skipped an extra day in what should have been a Leap Year and the British Treasury decided to shift the start of the new tax year from 5th to 6th April.

One last, strange fact. For reasons unknown, or unclear, the government tax year runs from 1st April to 31st March, as does the fiscal year for corporation tax.

Thank heavens it hasn’t changed since then because I’m struggling to follow all of this. Luckily, we are not tested on our knowledge of these details when we submit our taxes, which is a very good thing.


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Episode 33: What's behind the door?

Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!

Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?

Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year

Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?

Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2

Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?

Episode 40: Sweet Valentine

Episode 41: A Reminder

Episode 42: I'll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

Episode 43: The joy of golden daffodils

Episode 44: To correct or not to correct, that is the question

Episode 45: The whole world's going green!

Episode 46: Idiom of the week - Raining cats and dogs

Episode 47: The joke's on you!