The deadline for submitting self-assessment tax returns is less than two weeks away. There’s an automatic £100 penalty for missing the 31st January deadline. Of the 11 million people who have registered for self assessment or need to fill in a tax return, 4.5 million this year have yet to complete one.
Here are seven useful tips that may get you away with the £100 fine.
Do you have a reasonable excuse for late filing?
HM Revenue & Customs will accept reasonable excuses for late filing, such as bereavement, illness, fire, flood or theft, including the December floods that affected much of Britain. If any of these prevent you from filing on time, you may be able to ask for the £100 fine to be waived.
Do you need to be in the self-assessment system at all?
If you earned less than £2,500 in untaxed income last year you may not need to fill in a form. Best double checking by calling HMRC and tell them about your circumstances – they should be able to advise you either way if you need to fill in a form or not.
Have your circumstances changed?
If you used to be self-employed and had to file a tax return but are now employed or live off pension income, you may not need to fill in a tax return anymore. Call HMRC to find out.
Are you waiting for your online login details?
Registration for online services can take up to 20 days, however there are allowances for those who register close to the deadline. HMRC offer a two week window for those who have registered but have not received their login details yet. Payment will still need to paid by the deadline to avoid paying interest. The window also applies if you have lost your login details but be sure to request new ones before the 31st January.
Could you file your return through an accountant?
Another way to avoid paying the penalty if you have not yet registered is to file your form through an accountant who is already registered, and should have software to file on your behalf. This may also save you some time, and potentially tax, if there is something you may have forgotten to include in your return.
Could you fill in the form and then change it?
Another idea if you have not got your figures completed is to fill in the return and send away with estimated figures. You have 12 months following the 31st January to make any amendments, so better getting something away than nothing at all.
Are you worried about being able to pay?
One piece of advice I always give is never ignore HMRC. If you think you cannot afford to pay your tax bill and are delaying sending your return for this reason, file your return and contact HMRC and explain your circumstances. HMRC will more than likely arrange a payment plan for you. This isn’t ever guaranteed but definitely better speaking to them than ignoring them.
If in doubt, speak to a professional. Contact Hello Accountancy on 0800 8654330 or 07857 380805, or email firstname.lastname@example.org