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Have you done your tax return yet?

January 31st (yes, that’s this Sunday) is the last day to submit your 2015 self-assessment tax return. Have you cut it fine this year? Don’t worry, all is not lost…

Do you need to submit a tax return for this tax year? Provided you are set up to file online, you should be able to meet the deadline. You can send your 2014-15 figures right at the last minute and still escape a fine.

It’s an annual chore that many of us loathe to do, our survey revealed that 38% of people would rather a trip to the dentist than the pain of filing a tax return. HMRC received over 4m tax returns during January last year – and 980,000 of these were sent on the last two days of the month.

Could you be excused?

A common reason for missing the self assessment tax return deadline is not having all the figures you need. Perhaps you’re still waiting for a statement from a bank or can’t find key paperwork from your pension provider? It’s possible to use provisional or estimated figures on the return, as long as you indicate this is what you’ve done.

If you fail to meet the midnight deadline on January 31st, there are very few excuses HMRC will accept. Examples include the death of a partner shortly before the tax deadline, an unexpected stay in hospital, or a fire which prevented you from completing your return.

In cases like this, HMRC expects you to make a return as soon as you can and then appeal against the automatic fine for being late.

Support for victims of floods

In December 2015 HMRC set up a telephone helpline (0800 904 7900) for anyone affected by severe weather and floods. It’s designed to enable anyone affected to get practical help and advice on a wide range of tax problems.

Specifically, HMRC has undertaken to:

    • agree instalment arrangements where taxpayers are unable to pay as a result of the floods;
    • agree a practical approach when individuals and businesses have lost vital records;
    • suspend debt collection proceedings for those affected;
    • cancel penalties when the taxpayer has missed statutory deadlines.

Too late with your tax return?

Whatever your reason for missing the January deadline, it’s important to submit a tax return as soon as possible, even if you don’t have any tax to pay. If you delay sending in your figures you will run the risk of further fines.

Perhaps you have missed the deadline before? If so, how did HMRC react? It would be interesting to hear if anyone has managed to get the £100 fine refunded.

If you’re stuck, remember that help is available. Ring HMRC‘s self-assessment helpline (0300 200 3310) and ask for advice. And don’t forget you can also use the Which? tax calculator to run through your tax figures before you submit them to HMRC. Our help notes give clear guidance on what to declare, the tax deductible expenses you can claim and how to pay tax on investments.

Maybe tax returns have had their day? The government plans to switch to more regular assessment, according to some recent reports. Do you think this new approach will help, or will it simply add to your paperwork?

Comments
Member

I did mine last week. Is there any way of getting out of self assessment if your affairs no longer warrant it? I used to have bits of untaxed income, but now everything is taxed at source. Over the last few years my calculated tax has been within plus or minus a couple of pounds compared to the tax actually paid, so I wonder why I need to do self assessment any more.

Member

Hi, Colin. I think you can contact HMRC directly and ask them if you can stop submitting a self-assessment return. They are currently trying to cut down the number who do, so there should be a good chance of them agreeing. In future, the new digital accounts system should let you check what tax is due and that it is being collected through your tax code correctly. I’m not sure when this is being introduced for private taxpayers though, so for now, if you stop doing self-assessment, you’ll have to check your codes through PAYE statements. To contact HMRC ring the self-assessment helpline: 0300 200 3310.

Member

Thank you Ian, I was rather hoping no-one would say ring them up as from what I’ve seen on Which conversation I could be hanging on hold for ages! I wonder if you can write an old fashioned letter, you know, with envelopes and stamps and stuff …

Member

Having completed self assessment for many years I had a letter from HMRC saying that as my tax affairs were straightforward they would no longer be asking me for a tax return, but I could still request self assessment forms if I wished.

I would advise anyone in this position to still calculate their tax due against tax paid each year – assuming you can do the calculation – to check your position. You will want to reclaim any tax overpaid, and don’t want an unexpected bill if you have underpaid. I’m sure Google will now do this.

Member

I have not been asked to complete a tax return for years.

Member

Hii Wave,,,,,,,,,you may not be asked to complete but the onus as best I know is on you to know if you need to rather than the tax man tell you you should
Both my father and I who make nothing have our accountant do one every year
Just like Malcolm I think said this year nt Dad got the same letter saying he no longer was required to fill one out……….may have been prompted by accounted request which is the forth request to to exempted from this nonsense
As the land owner the HMRC still it seems like to hear from me even though I come nowhere near the tax threshold……….To date we have gotten a tiny cheque in for the return of tax on our savings accounts which feature in our returns………….
If you are PAYE and have no other income you dont really need to put in a return and are very unlikely to be ask.
Before anyone tells me I’d be better fill in my own returns………I have had an accountant for many years since I was in business…………….He is fair I think and charged me £70 last year……………..I’m happy paying that as I simply cannot be bothered by more forms………………I get enough of those
I’m not accountant,,,,,,,,,,this is just based my experiences

Member

Wrote that in a hurry it seems……….wow what spelling etc????????

Member

Yes I must check next year. It’s two years since I checked and was paying the right tax then.

Member
B D Eckersley says:
31 January 2016

I didnt get a Tax Statement this year so I sent a cheque for the amount that my accountant said I have to pay, I will wait to see if I get a balance Statement.