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Are you struggling with your tax return?

Tax return

There’s just over a fortnight before the 31 January deadline for filing your 2015/16 tax return and paying any money you owe. But if you’re finding it tricky, don’t panic – help is at hand.

Will you be submitting a tax return this year? How confident are you about filling it in properly? According to our research, about a fifth (19%) of people who file a tax return worry they’ve made mistakes that have cost them in the past.

The most taxing areas of the paperwork are for property income, but dividends and pensions rules cause headaches for many, too.

Then there are those little things that might reduce your tax bill such as gifts to charity.

Are you worried about meeting the deadline?

With a little over two weeks to go, there’s no need to panic just yet, but don’t leave it until the last minute either.

If you’re struggling, there are resources that can help. HMRC has its own self-assessment helpline (0300 200 3310), but be sure to get your call in early, as unanswered queries or long call-waiting times could frustrate you at the last minute.

Which? also has a variety of services to help people completing their tax return, from a range of free online guides, our tax calculator and the Money Helpline.

For a small fee (waived for members and trial members), it’ll even file the paperwork for you.

What happens if you miss the deadline?

Last year, 8% of returns from people aged 18-20 weren’t submitted in time, making this group of people eight times more likely to miss the deadline than pensioners.

For the past couple years, men have been slightly better at filing their taxes than women, but the difference is a miniscule 0.03%.

If you don’t make the deadline, don’t be tempted to think a miss is as good as a mile. HMRC will usually issue a £100 fine if you don’t file by midnight on 31 January.

And if you keep it waiting, the fines can rack up – 5% of the total bill if you’re a month late. In the cases of extreme tardiness, the tax bill can double.

If you’ve got a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline, HMRC might agree to waive the fees.

For example, if you’ve been affected by flooding, it is likely to be forgiving, providing any delay isn’t unreasonable. It has even set up a helpline for people affected by severe weather and flooding – 0800 904 7900.

But it won’t be fobbed off by any old excuse – here are a few that didn’t pass muster in 2014:

  • ‘Rats ate my paperwork’
  • ‘I fell out with my wife and went to Italy for five years’
  • ‘The dog ate it’
  • ‘My sister normally does it for me but we fell out’
  • ‘My accountant was sick’
  • ‘I had a bad cold’

Are you struggling with your tax return or have you in the past? What aspects did you find most confusing and what did you do about it? Or, if you were late with a payment, what excuse did you make? Did it work?


I’ve just found a free evening to submit my self assessment, logged in, went through their authentication procedures, clicked on “Submit” and got “There’s a technical problem with our website”. I hope this is not going to last all the way to the deadline due to the large number of users.