Two million self-assessors ignore 'file early' alerts

Alerts issued back in 2018 to contractors facing the January 31st 2019 tax deadline likely got the cold shoulder from 2.1million self-assessors -- as that's how many leave it to the last.

So around 25 per cent of tax returns due in to HMRC do not get filed until the four weeks following December 31st, according to official data obtained by financial firm Tilney.

Reflecting on the figures, which relate to the 2016/17 tax year, the firm was sympathetic to those who don't file their returns until the eleventh hour because they find it tedious.

"But leaving your tax return to the very last minute can be both stressful and risky,"  cautioned the firm's managing director Jason Hollands.

"[You may incur] unwelcome penalties for late payment, with a 5 per cent charge on the tax owed for late payment after 30 days, as well interest charged at a rate of 3 per cent."

Hollands singled out newcomers to online self-assessment as being particularly up against it, because they must first get in touch with the Revenue before they can e-file.

"To file online, the only option left now [as the deadline for submitting paper returns expired at midnight on December 31st], you need an HMRC account.

"If you do not have one -- or have lost [your]details -- you will need to be sent an activation code in the post, so it is important to act as soon as possible to avoid a late filing penalty."

Online, HMRC is reminding that people need to complete a 2017/18 tax return before January 31st 2019 if they:

  • earned more than £2,500 from renting out property or their partner received Child Benefit and either of them had an annual income of more than £50,000
  • received more than £2,500 in other untaxed income, for example from tips or commission
  • are self-employed sole traders
  • are employees claiming expenses in excess of £2,500
  • have an annual income over £100,000
  • earned income from abroad that they need to pay tax on.

 "It is human nature to leave tasks until the last minute, especially those which are perceived as difficult or boring, such as filling in forms," said Mr Hollands.

"[However] failure to [file by midnight on January 31st] will result in a £100 fine, which rises by £10 a day to a maximum of £900 by May 1st, and continues to ratchet up further thereafter."

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Written by Simon Moore

Simon writes impartial news and engaging features for the contractor industry, covering, IR35, the loan charge and general tax and legislation.
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