You are here: Home - Household Bills - News - Understanding -

Why you should start filing your tax return now: top tips

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Hundreds of thousands of people miss the tax return deadline each January, but just like Christmas, it falls on the same day every year so it makes financial sense to start early and avoid the penalties.

The deadline for sending your 2015/16 tax returns to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), and paying any tax owed, is 31 January 2017.

While a record 2,000 people submitted their return on Christmas Day last year and 25,000 completed theirs on New Year’s Eve, a staggering 800,000 people missed the tax return deadline of 31 January 2016.

Before getting gripped by the Christmas festivities and the resolutions of the New Year, it’s worth starting now to avoid the penalties for filing late.

It’s not just the self-employed who need to file

Self-assessment is not just for self-employed people. If you fall under one of the following categories, you’ll need to complete a tax return too:

  • You are self-employed or a company director
  • You received a P800 from HMRC saying you didn’t pay enough tax last year and you didn’t pay what you owe through your tax code or with a voluntary payment.
  • Your annual income is £100,000 or more
  • You got more than £2,500 in untaxed income, such as letting out a property
  • You made profit from shares or a second home so you need to pay capital gains tax.
  • You or your partner receive Child Benefit and your income is over £50,000
  • You receive annual income from a trust or settlement, or any income from the estate of a deceased person, and further tax is due on that income
  • You lived abroad and had a UK income
  • You are a trustee.

The penalties for a late tax return

An automatic £100 penalty is initially charged if a return is late, even if you owe no tax. If it’s not filed within three months after the return due date, a £10 daily penalty starts to apply, up to a maximum of 90 days.

If your return’s not filed within six months you’ll have to pay a further £300 or 5% of the tax liability (total tax liability shown on return, not just outstanding tax if you’ve already paid all or some of your tax liability), whichever is higher.

If the return is still outstanding after a further six months, so at the 12 month point, then a further penalty can be charged.

This means potentially, anyone not filing their self-assessment tax return by 1 August could be hit with penalties totalling at least £1,300, sometimes significantly more if your tax liability exceeds £6,000.

Top tips to get your paperwork in order

Tina Riches, national tax partner at Smith & Williamson, an accountancy, investment management and tax group, said it’s never too early to start your tax return.

If you’ve not registered for self-assessment, you should do that first, and sooner rather than later.

As the return is done online, you can start and stop, so there’s no need to complete it in one go.

Once it has been filed a copy of the return can be downloaded or you can access the return online.

If you spot an error in the return after submission, it is possible to complete and submit an amended return or you can do this by letter to HMRC.

Here are Riches’ top tips to get started:

There are 0 Comment(s)

If you wish to comment without signing in, click your cursor in the top box and tick the 'Sign in as a guest' box at the bottom.

The savings accounts paying the most interest

It’s time to get your finances in shape, and moving your cash savings to a higher paying deal is a good plac...

Everything you need to know about being furloughed

Few people had heard of ‘furlough’ before March 2020, but the coronavirus pandemic thrust the idea of bein...

The experts’ guide to sorting out your personal finances in 2021

From opting to ‘low spend’ months to imposing your own ‘cooling-off period’, industry experts reveal t...

What will happen if rates change

How your finances will be impacted by a rise in interest rates.

Regular Savings Calculator

Small regular contributions can build up nicely over time.

Online Savings Calculator

Work out how your online savings can build over time.

Having a baby and your finances: seven top tips

We’re guessing the Duchess of Cambridge won’t be fretting about maternity pay or whether she’ll still be...

Protecting family wealth: 10 tips for cutting inheritance tax

Inheritance tax - sometimes known as 'death tax' - can cause even more heartache for bereaved families. But th...

Travel insurance: Five tips to ensure a successful claim

Ahead of your summer holiday, it’s important to make sure you have the right level of travel cover or you co...

Money Tips of the Week