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Top tips to file your online tax return on time

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
With just a few weeks left to file your self-assessment tax return, here are top tips to help you cross it off your to-do list.

The deadline to file your tax returns falls on the same date year in, year out, on 31 January. But each year, hundreds of thousands miss the cut off point, meaning they’re hit with late submission fines. Last year, 840,000 missed the deadline which resulted in an automatic £100 fine.

Around 11 million people are expected to file their tax return for the 2016/17 tax year – this includes the self-employed, those who have a taxable income over £100,000 or if your income or your partner’s was over £50,000 and one of you claimed child benefit.

You will also need to fill out a return if you are a trustee of a registered pension scheme or if you had income from savings or investments of more than £10,000 before tax.

While late submissions may be unavoidable due to illness or bereavement in the family, and HMRC is starting to treat accidental errors more leniently, it will still issue fines where it believes non-compliance is deliberate.

The taxman is currently consulting on plans to introduce a points based system which looks at a taxpayer’s recent filing history before imposing a penalty. However, this will not affect those filing for the January 2018 deadline.

Insurer Royal London is urging people to get ahead of the deadline, and has come up with top tips to help you prepare.

Helen Morrissey, personal finance specialist at Royal London, said: “There are occasions when filing your tax return late is unavoidable in which case let HMRC know as soon as possible as it can waive fines if you have a reasonable excuse.

“However, HMRC is unlikely to be sympathetic if you tell them you didn’t give yourself enough time to fill out the forms and so you could find yourself with a £100 fine for starters. Delays often happen because people don’t realise how long things such as tax references can take to come through or it can take time to collect the necessary paperwork. Getting organised now can save you a lot of stress as well as money further down the line.”

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