Remember to file your tax return
Written on 28 December 2015
More and more of us are choosing to submit our tax return online with 85% of people choosing this option last year, according to HMRC.
While the deadline for paper returns was 31 October last year, you still have until midnight on 31 January to file a return online and to pay any tax you owe for the 2014-15 tax year. But it’s important not to leave it until the last minute. For a start the system can be slow at busy times so it’s a good idea to allow for that. And if you haven’t yet registered for online returns or self-assessment you’ll need to do that first.
Miss the deadline for your tax return and you’ll have to pay a £100 penalty even if you don’t owe any tax, unless you can claim one of the reasonable excuses HMRC accepts. This penalty increases once you’re three months late or more. And if you miss the deadline for paying any tax due, you’ll get hit with interest straightaway and penalties start at 5% of the tax due once you’re 30 days late.
“The 31 January deadline will soon be here. And while it’s tempting to put completion of your tax return to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list at this time of year, it’s not something I would recommend if you want to avoid a last minute rush in January,” says Ruth Owen, director of General, Personal Tax at HMRC.
Tips for getting your tax return in on time
- If you’re not sure if you need to complete a tax return, use the online checker at gov.uk.
- If you’ve not yet registered for self-assessment, do this straightaway as it can take up to 4 working weeks to get set up to complete an online return.
- If you haven’t filed online before, you’ll need to request an activation code using your unique taxpayer reference. The code will be sent to you in the post and can take 10 working days to arrive.
- Get all your paperwork together. For example, if you’re employed you’ll need your P60 from your employer and also details of any bank or building society interest. If you’re self-employed make sure you’ve got accounts and expenses organised.
- When you log in make sure you type in the full online address – www.gov.uk/selfassessment. This will ensure you log in securely and free of charge to your online return.
- You don’t have to complete your return in one go. You can save it and return to it at a later date.
- HMRC says it’s really important not to forget to hit the ‘submit’ button at the end of the process. It’s not until you do this that the information is sent to HMRC. And don’t forget to pay any tax due by 31 January 2016.
- There’s more help at gov.uk or through the self-assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310 and some useful online videos from HMRC on YouTube.
Digital Personal Tax Accounts
When you log on to file your return this year you may see some new screens giving you the option to set up your own Personal Tax Account (PTA). For now you’ll still file online as usual but your PTA will allow you to see everything in one place, including your PAYE, Child Benefit, tax credits and National Insurance information. And if you have questions about your tax you’ll be able to ask them via webchat.
Every individual taxpayer will have access to a PTA by April 2016, says HMRC. By 2020 you’ll be able to use them to register, file, pay and update your tax information online at any time doing away with the need for an annual tax return altogether for many.