Don’t Forget Your Self Assessment Tax Return

Christmas seems like a distant memory and the novelty of the New Year is fading as we all return to business as usual and, for many, the reality of the deadline for a self assessment tax return to be completed and paid.

A surprising number of people spent Christmas day completing and submitting their self assessment tax returns to HMRC, with just over half the people required to submit a return having done so by New Year’s Eve.

This does leave a substantial number of individuals still to complete their own return as the deadline grows near and for those struggling to meet their tax obligations, a call to a Licensed Insolvency Practitioner may be the first step to avoiding larger problems with HMRC.


When is the self assessment tax return deadline?

The deadline for paper filing has already passed, but for online filing of self assessment tax returns (covering the tax year from 6thApril, 2017 to 5thApril 2018), the deadline is 31stJanuary, 2019 along with the payment of any tax owed from income earned during that period.

With so many people still to submit their self assessment tax return, the HMRC website is likely to be subject to unusually high demand as the deadline approaches, so it’s probably best not to leave yours until the last minute. If you do, take a screenshot if the site becomes unusable due to high demand. There are no guarantees this will excuse a late return although it may help.

Who has to complete a self assessment tax return?

Most people will have their tax deducted by their employer at source under the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system and will not have to worry about submitting their own self assessment tax return.

People who have to file a self-assessment tax return tend to be those who run a business as a director of a limited company, the self employed, partners in a partnership business, or those who earn an income that HMRC won’t be advised of any other way.

Additionally, if HMRC send you a tax return to complete, it must be returned.


What happens if my self assessment tax return is late?

HMRC charge a penalty of £100 for late tax returns, with a penalty applying for late payments as well as interest on the outstanding balance. Over three months late, the penalty is further increased, the amount will vary depending on how late the return/payment was and how much is owed.

While there is a facility to provide a ‘reasonable excuse’ for submitting a late return, there is a published list of what counts and what doesn’t count as a valid reason for not filing a self assessment tax return on time.

If you’re struggling to pay HMRC, the best thing to do is to contact them direct and explain before the deadline is due. HMRC have a duty to collect tax that is owed, but they’d generally prefer to help you pay rather than impose fines and have a few options to assist those in genuine difficulty. However, bear in mind they’re not obliged to offer preferential terms if they don’t feel it is warranted.


At Lines Henry, we’re accustomed to helping businesses and individuals with all kinds of financial difficulties, including those who are under pressure from HMRC. Contact us for a free consultation and get the best advice for what to do next, before a problem becomes a crisis.