Half of taxpayers still to complete self assessment

ICAEW is warning the 5.5m individuals HMRC estimates have yet to complete their tax return against leaving it to the last minute, as they risk a penalty if they miss the 31 January 2019 deadline

By 31 December 2018, around 52% of taxpayers had already filed their returns and of these, approximately five million were completed online. ICAEW points out it is now too late for most people to file a paper tax return and cautions that the £100 fixed penalty for not completing a tax return by 31 January is just the start, so it is important to act now.

Anita Monteith, ICAEW technical tax manager, said: ‘Leaving tax returns to the last minute might not seem like the end of the world to people who complete one every year, but if this is your first time, there are a few extra things to consider.

‘If you have not filed online before, you must allow time to sign up on gov.uk and for your activation pin to arrive through the post. This can take up to 10 days.

‘It may take longer than you expect to find and prepare all the paperwork. If you are an employee, you will need information your employer gave you many months ago such as your P60 and possibly a P11D if you receive taxable benefits such as a car. If you are self-employed, then you will need your business records, and if you receive a pension then your pension statement.’

Monteith also reminded those yet to submit their returns that there have been changes to the ways in which they can pay any tax due. Since December 2017 it has not been possible to make payment through the post office and individuals can no longer pay their tax using a personal credit card.

‘This may mean planning another way to pay, ahead of the deadline,’ she pointed out.

In total, more than 11.5m 2017/18 tax returns are due. The penalties for late tax returns start with 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, up to a maximum of £900, come into play; followed after six months by a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater; and 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.

HMRC has films and webinars available providing guidance for anyone who has yet to start their 2017/18 self assessment, which show each stage of the process, with bespoke guidance for individuals’ varying circumstances, including a video specifically aimed at customers completing a tax return for the first time

Report by Pat Sweet

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