Thousands use Christmas to file tax returns

3rd January 2018

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has revealed that more than 16,000 people chose to file their self-assessment tax return forms online during the Christmas holiday.

Many individuals and business owners are currently completing their tax returns for the 2016/17 tax year, which runs from 6th April 2016 to 5th April 2017. The option to file on paper has now passed and, unless taxpayers have a ‘Reasonable Excuse’, tax returns must now be filed online by 31st January 2018 to avoid an automatic penalty.

On Christmas Eve 6,033 completed their tax return – including 92 between 11pm and midnight – 2,590 taxpayers submitted their forms on Christmas Day itself, and 7,655 sent their returns on Boxing Day.

HMRC issued the latest figures to coincide with the launch of its campaign to urge the UK’s 11.4 million self-assessment taxpayers not to ignore the “niggle” about completing their tax returns. The billboard and online campaign, which features ducks quacking “tax”, warns self-assessment taxpayers: “Don’t let your tax return peck away at you.”

Angela MacDonald, HMRC Director-General for Customer Services, said: “It’s easy to put off doing your self assessment, but that tax ‘niggle’ means it’s always on our customers’ minds. With the 31st January deadline edging closer we want to help remind our customers to get it done so they can alleviate that feeling, ensuring they can relax and not have to worry about doing their tax return.”

Those who miss the January deadline for filing tax returns for 2016/17 face the following penalties:

  • An initial £100 penalty applies even if there is less than £100 tax to pay or the tax due is paid on time
  • After three months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day – up to a maximum of £900
  • After six months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300 – whichever is more
  • After 12 months, another 5% of the tax due or £300 – whichever is more. In serious cases, the penalty after 12 months can amount to 100% of the tax due

Each of these penalties is in addition to one another, meaning a tax return filed 12 months late would be subject to penalties of at least £1,600 – and this could easily escalate depending on how much tax is due.

You could also be liable for interest and late payment penalties in addition to the penalties mentioned above if you pay your tax late. Tax payments are normally due on 31st January and sometimes the following 31st July, depending on the level of tax liability and what you have deducted at source.

Not surprisingly, January is the busiest month for HMRC staff who will be pressed for time, and only be on-hand to field basic queries. To ensure your tax return is accurate, you should ask your local TaxAssist Accountant to take care of your tax affairs on your behalf – from registration with HMRC through to calculating your tax liability.

If you need assistance filing a self-assessment tax return for the 2016/17 tax year, simply call our friendly team now on 0800 086 1693 or drop us a line using our online enquiry form.

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