If you’ve still not filed your Self Assessment for the tax year 2017-18, then you need to put the turkey and tinsel behind you and make filing it the first New Year’s resolution you achieve—because you only have until the end of the month.
However, you’re not alone. As people returned to work on 2nd January, HMRC revealed that more than 5.5 million taxpayers have still not completed their tax return, despite the imminent deadline of 31st January 2019.
Confidence in most tax payers
Despite the large number of taxpayers still due to file their returns, HMRC expects the vast majority to complete their returns and pay any tax owed by the end of the month. With more than 11.5 million 2017 to 2018 tax returns are due, only 52% of taxpayers had already filed their returns by 31 December 2018, but Mel Stride, financial secretary to the Treasury, called this figure “encouraging”.
However, she warned: “With less than one month to go before the deadline, there are still many people that need to act now.”
Online filing remains the most popular option. More than 5 million people have completed their returns online so far this year, which equates to 88% of the total returns filed.
Who needs to complete a tax return?
HMRC advises that you need to complete a tax return if:
- You earned more than £2,500 from renting out property
- You or your partner received Child Benefit and either of you had an annual income of more than £50,000
- You received more than £2,500 in other untaxed income, for example from tips or commission
- You are a self-employed sole trader
- You are an employee claiming expenses in excess of £2,500
- You have an annual income over £100,000
- You earned income from abroad that you need to pay tax on
If you completed a Self Assessment tax return last year but didn’t have any tax to pay, you still need to complete a 2017 to 2018 tax return unless HMRC has written to you to say it is not required.
Why it’s vital to file on time
If you’re new to Self Assessment, or have never left a tax return this late before, you may be unaware of how severe the penalties can be for late submission. If you file your tax return late, you face:
- An initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time
- After 3 months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900
- After 6 months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater
- After 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater
There are also additional penalties for paying late of 5% of the tax unpaid at 30 days, 6 months and 12 months.
However, HMRC does everything it can to assist you through the process, so don’t put it off. If you can’t find an accountant to handle it for you at this stage, make use of all the guidance HMRC has to offer, and phone them if you need help.
Helping you file your tax return
Don’t forget that if you haven’t filed a Self Assessment tax return online before, you need to register for the online submission service first – and you must allow time to receive your security details for this from HMRC.
“The Self Assessment deadline on 31 January is fast approaching, but there is still time for customers to file their tax returns online and on time to avoid any unnecessary penalties,” says Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s director general for customer services.
“If you are completing Self Assessment for the first time or are yet to start your 2017 to 2018 tax return, there is a wide range of support and guidance available on GOV.UK to help at every stage of the tax return process.”
This includes online guidance from HMRC, information on self assessment tax returns on the Government website and, if you prefer or need to talk to someone, the Self Assessment phone helpline (0300 200 3310).
So take HMRC’s advice and don’t let your tax return ‘peck away at you’! Do it now and avoid that last minute panic (and the risk of your computer or broadband letting you down!).
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