Don’t leave your tax return until the last minute

The Christmas and New Year holidays are over but don’t let the season of good will cost you more than it should. Forgetting about your self-assessment tax return could leave you facing a fine from the tax man, ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has warned.


HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) requires anyone completing a self-assessment online return to send their forms to them by the end of January. The January deadline for self-assessment has been in place for the last six years, last year HMRC issued 850,000 fines for late and incorrect filing.


Chas Roy-Chowdhury, ACCA head of taxation said: “The end of January may seem like a long way off but it will come round quicker than you think. My advice would be to get your return done as early as possible. The earlier you start to do it, the more time you have to check that you have everything to complete it. As you may find for instance that you do not have all the interest statements you need. HMRC won’t hesitate in fining you if there are mistakes in your tax return. The last thing anyone needs is a wholly avoidable fine from the tax man, especially after the expense of Christmas.


“For many people filing an online self-assessment return is a straightforward process but if you are unsure about the information you are submitting seek the advice of a professional accountant. The cost of a professional accountant will be less than any accumulated fine from HMRC. Don’t be one of the, almost, a million people caught out each year.”




ACCA points out that many families will need to be conscious of the deadline too because of changes to child benefit claims. Any parent who earns between £50,000 and £60,000 can elect to continue to receive child benefit but they must complete a self-assessment form and will have to repay a proportion of the benefit they receive, by way of a tax charge, at the end of the tax year.


Chas Roy-Chowdhury, ACCA head of taxation, says: ‘If you earn over £50,000 and continue to claim child benefit but do not complete a self-assessment form you could be liable, not only to repay part of all of the benefit claimed by way of a tax charge on the highest earner of the couple, but also interest and penalties on the tax unpaid, even if it is an innocent mistake. Parents filling in self-assessment forms on Christmas Day does not sound very festive, but the fines for getting it in late or wrong can add up.”


If you miss the 31 January deadline you will be fined £100, regardless of whether you actually owe any tax. From then on, the fine will be £10 per day for the next 90 days. Meaning if you are three months late in filing and even if you owe no tax you will have a fine of £1000. More details about self-assessment, the deadline and penalties can be found on the HRMC website at if you need the help of a professional qualified accountant visit


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