Almost 250,000 people filed a self assessment tax return in the first week of the tax year, up by 100,000 since 2018
HMRC said the data, which examined the number of taxpayers who filed between 6 and 12 April, also revealed the most popular day to file a tax return during that week was 6 April, the first day of the tax year, with Sunday being the least popular day to file. The highest figure was recorded during the pandemic when 270,000 taxpayers filed in the first week of the tax year.
Taxpayers who file early will also find out if they are owed money sooner and can go ahead and claim the refund once their tax return is submitted and processed. They can also check if they are due a refund in the HMRC app once they have filed their return.
Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, said: ‘Our figures show more and more customers are benefitting from filing early which means they can relax knowing their tax return is complete, know what they owe and can budget. For those who haven’t yet thought about their tax return, go to gov.uk, search ‘self assessment’ to get started.’
The filing deadline for the 2022-23 tax year is 31 January 2024.
Sarah Coles, head of personal finance, Hargreaves Lansdown said: ‘Your chance to be an early bird has flown, but if you get stuck into your tax return now, you can still swoop in and snap up some key early bird benefits – and preen yourself for being ahead of the 861,085 people winging it at the last possible second.’
Here Coles sets out some handy tips and benefits of filing a tax return early.
1. You can set up a budget payment plan
This lets you set up regular weekly or monthly payments, so you don’t have to face the bill in one horrible lump sum. You can also pause these payments for up to six months, if you run into cash flow headaches.
2. You can plan ahead for the payment
You should be setting aside money to cover your tax bill as you go along, but things don’t always go to plan, so by getting on top of this now you have a few extra months to put cash aside to cover a shortfall.
3. If it turns out you don’t actually need to file, you can withdraw
If your circumstances have changed and you don’t need to file a tax return, you need to act now and let HMRC know, so they can have time to issue a withdrawal notice before the end of January. If you leave it to the deadline, you’ll need to do a tax return anyway in order to avoid a fine.
4. You may get a speedy tax refund
Payments don’t have to be in until January, but if HMRC owes you money, your refund will be processed straight away. And because HMRC isn’t as busy at this time of year, it should be fairly speedy.
5. You can do some tax planning before you file
Most of what you do now will only affect your tax bill for the current tax year, but there are a handful of ‘carry back’ opportunities to cut your bill for the year you’re filing a return for.
If you give money to charity using gift aid, the charity will reclaim basic rate tax, but higher and additional rate taxpayers need to claim the difference through their tax return: you can carry back this claim. It means you can make a donation now, and include it in the tax return you’re filing. This is particularly useful if your income is going to fall below a tax threshold this year, because you can claim gift aid in a year when you were paying a higher rate of tax.
Another carry back rule applies for investments in an enterprise investment scheme (EIS) in the current tax year, with carry back income tax relief of 30% to the previous year. You cannot claim back more relief than the tax you have paid, so this is particularly useful if you will not earn enough to offset the tax relief this year.
6. You have longer to correct mistakes on previous tax returns
If completing your tax return makes you realise you have made a mistake on the previous year’s return, then you have until 31 January to submit an amendment. If you leave it all to the last minute, it is easy to be so busy with your tax return that there is no time to amend the previous one.
7. If the whole thing feels like too much admin, you can get help
This isn’t a bad time to find an accountant to complete a tax return for you, because it’s a relatively quiet period. If you leave it to the last minute, you may struggle to find someone with availability.