Are you one of the 10m people who have to complete their self-assessment tax return? According to HMRC, around 1,500 committed people actually submitted their tax return on Christmas Day!
The pressure is definitely on this year, as you’ll be hit with an automatic £100 fine if you miss the 31 January deadline for online tax return submissions. Despite the warnings and promises of ‘inner peace’ from HMRC if you file on time, around 2m people were late submitting their tax returns last year.
HMRC says that over three-quarters of tax returns are filed online instead of on paper. Considering you get an extra three months to complete the task as well as a more user-friendly form, it’s easy to see why this is a growing trend. By 2014, HMRC predicts that over 80% of us will be submitting online rather than putting pen to paper.
When timing is tight
If you’re cutting it fine this year, make sure you check that you’re registered to use HMRC’s online service. You can register online, but there’s a week’s delay while they send you an activation code by post. You can’t proceed without going through this process first – so don’t put it off any longer, even if you are still gathering last-minute figures.
If getting your final figures together is holding you up, consider submitting an estimate instead. HMRC will normally accept these, although they will ask you to explain why you don’t have the actual figure, and estimate when you will have it available.
Even though completing your tax return online is relatively straight-forward, you might want to consider getting professional help if your affairs are more complex. Using an accountant or tax adviser can certainly be beneficial, although you’ll still be personally held responsible if they don’t meet the deadline.
Avoid snail mail fails
The good news is that HMRC will send an automatic receipt once you’ve filed online, so even if you decide to burn the midnight oil, at least you won’t have a last minute rush to catch the post.
If you’ve already submitted your tax return, did you do it online, or were you one of the dwindling few who prefer to fill in a traditional form? Do you tend to leave it all to the last minute?