JANUARY 2016 - How to File your Tax Return
If you are one of the 10.2 million people within self-assessment you may still need to submit a correct and complete on-line tax return by midnight on 31 January or face penalties. You are already too late to file a paper tax return and if you have not registered for HMRC’s free online services, which can take up to ten days, you may be too late. If you are in this position one option open to you is to seek the services of a tax professional who uses commercial software.
Last year 890,000 taxpayers did not file on time and automatically received the £100 fine. Penalties apply even if there is no tax liability with extra penalties applying if the return is three months late or more.
Don’t be fooled by the announcements made by the Chancellor in the March 2015 budget that the end of the tax return was coming, this is still some way off and is still very much a vision.
To take advantage of HMRC’s online filing don’t be caught out by scams. It is important that you use the full address www.gov.uk/self-assessment if you want to file your return securely and free of charge.
There are also financial penalties for not paying tax liabilities on time. Unwary taxpayers may be caught out as the 31st January deadline for paying their 2014/15 liability and 1st payment on account for 2015/16 falls on a Sunday this year. To avoid interest and penalties payment needs to reach HMRC by Friday 29th unless faster payments such as online or telephone are used.
Taxpayers who are encountering financial difficulties and are unable to pay their tax in full should contact HMRC as soon as they can if they want to get more time to pay or pay in instalments.
Anyone tempted to under-declare their income or gains to avoid tax runs the risk of incurring the wrath of the taxman and it just isn’t worth it. Even accidental mistakes can result in penalties so if you are unsure I cannot urge you strongly enough to seek professional advice.
HMRC draws information from various sources such as banks, local councils, legal aid data and even social media using a sophisticated database, to gather data from multiple public and private sources, to help identify cases where underpayment of tax may be an issue.
The opening hours at HMRC’s call centres are 8-4 on Saturday the 30th and closed on Sunday 31st so don’t leave queries to the last minute if you are going it alone. It might also be worth checking out the HMRC Guides for customers on You Tube as well as information on their website.
HMRC has a telephone helpline for anyone affected by the recent severe weather and floods. The helpline is 0800 904 7900. Opening hours are Monday to Friday, 8.00 am to 8.00 pm; Saturday and Sunday, 8.00 am to 4.00 pm, excluding bank holidays.