Tax returns still being left to the last-minute

Appeals to avoid leaving filing a self-assessment return to the last-minute appear to have fallen on deaf ears, as the busiest times were the deadline day and the 24hrs before.

Reflecting on its “biggest digital self-assessment event ever”, HM Revenue & Customs said almost one tenth of the 10.24m returns it received this year came in on January 30th and 31st.

In fact, 980,000 returns were received in the two-day period, including 50,000 between 1pm and 2pm on Jan 30th, and 32,000 between 11am and midday the following day.

That equates to the Revenue receiving tax returns at between a rate of 530 a minute and 830 a minute, in what the department called a “record-breaking” year for self-assessment.

In fact, about 210,000 morel people filed their self-assessment returns on time this year than last, indicating that the appeals by tax experts (and HMRC) may be having some positive impact.

Another statistic the department hailed is 1million. This is roughly the number of fully self-employed people who are not VAT registered but who opted (by last month’s end) to receive paperless messages from HMRC.

There’s another group of taxpayers the Revenue mentioned, albeit for less positive reasons. “If you’re one of the minority who missed the deadline, you still need to get your tax return to us as soon as possible, to avoid further penalties and interest mounting up,” it said.

Missing the tax return deadline results in an automatic £100 late-filing penalty, and there are further late-filing penalties after three, six and 12 months.

However taxpayers with a “genuine reason” for not self-assessing on time were urged by HMRC to contact it to ensure that they do not incur more penalties unnecessarily.

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