Tax doesn’t have to be taxing as SA deadline looms
No excuses. As the dreaded self-assessment tax deadline looms, ICAEW gives its top tips for filling out a tax return.
Anita Monteith, ICAEW’s Tax Faculty technical manager, says that HMRC has heard a range of excuses for late filing of a tax return, including ‘my dog died’, ‘I do not want to pay taxes for them to be spent on war with Afghanistan/Iraq/Syria’, and ‘I spilt tea on my computer’. These didn’t work. Serious illness is the only excuse accepted by the tax authorities.
With that in mind, those who have been sent a tax return need to ensure it is filed by 31 January to HMRC with any relevant taxes paid. Monteith says: ‘You need to make sure you have left enough time to fill in your tax return. Strict regulations introduced by HMRC in 2011 mean that there is a zero tolerance policy for late submission and the old “no tax due / no penalty rule” no longer applies. HMRC will not accept excuses – telling them you didn’t know a tax return was due, a dog ate your return or that you were on holiday simply won’t do. The deadline this year falls on a Saturday – this means Saturday. You will not have until the next working day to file your return.’
‘One of the most common mistakes is not putting net and gross bank interest in the right boxes so be sure to check this before you send off your tax return. If filing your tax return seems like an impossible task make sure you seek advice from a chartered accountant.’
Here are her top tips for making the process less painful:
- Have all the necessary information to hand
Additional documents you might need include details about any employment income (P60 and P11D etc.), interest statements and information on dividends from shares.
You will need your accounts if you are self-employed or run your own business and details of any property income if you have a buy-to-let.
You will also need details about anything you can deduct such as gift aid donations and pension contributions.
- Compare the return with last year’s
Explain any significant changes to income sources on last year’s return. There is white space where you can make notes which will help to avoid unnecessary queries from HMRC later.
Make sure you put all your paperwork into date order. Taking the time to do this now will save a whole lot of stress and make the filing process smoother. If some of it relates to the tax year we are in now, 2014/15, set up a new file for this now so you will be more organised next year.
- Set about submitting
You needn’t do the whole thing at once. The system allows you to save a partly completed tax return to allow completion over a period of time.
Print off a copy and check it over again before you file it.
- Double check and send
The final day for submission is Saturday 31 January.
Save a copy of your final return and print a copy of the receipt you receive when you submit it. You must keep records of all information used to complete your tax returns for 22 months after the end of the tax year or for 5 years and 10 months for those with a business or income from letting out property.
There is a maximum penalty of up to £3,000 for each tax year for which records have not been kept.
It is also important to remember that the deadline for paying any outstanding tax due for the 2013/14 tax year is also on 31 January 2015.