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Five million tax returns yet to be filed

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
More than five million tax returns are still outstanding, with less than a month to go before the deadline.

A total of 11.7 million 2018/19 tax returns are due to be submitted to HMRC by the 31 January 2020 deadline.

But as of 31 December, 6.3 million returns have been completed, meaning around 5.4 million are yet to be filed.

The latest figures from HMRC reveal that 34,448 returns were filed on New Year’s Eve, while just over 17,000 were filed on 1 January 2020.

Do you need to submit a tax return?

Tax is automatically deducted from the majority of UK taxpayers’ wages, pensions or savings. For people or businesses where tax is not automatically deducted, or where you may have earned additional untaxed income, you’re required to complete a self-assessment tax return each year.

If any of the following apply, you’ll need to submit a tax return:

  • You or your partner received Child Benefit and either of you had an annual income of more than £50,000
  • received more than £2,500 in other untaxed income, for example:
    • from tips or commission
    • money from renting out a property
    • income from savings, investments and dividends
    • foreign income
  • are self-employed sole traders and earned more than a £1,000
  • are a partner in a business partnership
  • are employees claiming expenses in excess of £2,500
  • have an annual income over £100,000.

Self-assessment for the first time

If you’re completing a tax return for the first time or have yet to start, HMRC provides a self-assessment video to help, plus there are guides on the site. You can also call the self-assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310 or contact HMRC via social media (don’t disclose any personal information though).

Late tax return penalties

If you submit your self-assessment tax return after the 31 January deadline, here are the penalties you can expect to pay:

  • 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 three months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day may be charged, up to a maximum of £900.
  • after six 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, six months and 12 months. Interest will be charged on all late payments.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said: “The self-assessment deadline on 31 January is fast approaching so customers have just under a month left to file their tax returns online to avoid any unnecessary penalties. Any tax due is also payable by 31 January.

“We know that can be a worry, and not only when large sums are involved, so I would urge anyone who is expecting to find it difficult to pay their tax to get in touch with us as soon as possible. We will do everything we can to help and provide practical support.”

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