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?