As we march ever onwards towards almost mandatory e-filing for self-assessment returns, Revenue & Customs is beginning to deliver on demands to improve the existing service. From 1 November 2006 it has been possible to submit attachments with the online self-assessment return.
The Revenue is keen not to encourage taxpayers to submit too much extraneous material with their returns but there are cases when it is useful to attach additional details, for example to satisfy concerns about adequate disclosure and to protect against the risk of any claim in the future for a return to be opened outside the enquiry window using the powers of discovery.
Those wanting to give more information in support of tax return entries can usually enter details in the 'Additional information' box - the 'white space note' area. However, if you want to send additional supporting documentation with your online self-assessment return, for example on the capital gains supplementary page, where a claim for gifts hold-over relief is being made, then this should now be possible.
There are of course some technical restrictions and these are as follows:
• The attachment will need to be a true PDF (portable document format) file, which can be created by, for example, using software such as Adobe Acrobat Writer or by using a basic scanner.
• Total file size must not exceed 5MB, eg, about 500 pages of plain text generated from Microsoft Word or Excel. This should satisfy most people.
• The online self-assessment attachments feature will transmit PDF files quicker if using a broadband (or equivalent) connection. If you use a telephone dial-up facility (ie, not broadband or equivalent), the speed with which PDFs will transmit may be very slow.
• Any attachment must obviously be virus-free and must not have additional files embedded within it.
• It will not be possible to submit more than 20 attachments with your online self-assessment return.
If you do not observe the above requirements the tax return and accompanying attachments will not be accepted by the Revenue.
The Revenue has made it clear that it will not routinely review attachments and you should therefore not attach any information that is not directly related to the return. For guidance on what is sufficient information to include on a tax return refer to Statement of Practice 1/06, which arose from the case of Langham v Veltema.
Source: Revenue & Customs website at www.hmrc.gov.uk/sa/attachments.htm.