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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Tax return deadlines and penalties

During the tax year (6 April one year to 5 April the next) there are key dates by which you need to send HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) your tax return and/or make certain payments. It's important to be aware of these dates as HMRC can impose penalties and surcharges if you miss them.

Issue of Self Assessment tax returns

Soon after each new tax year (6 April) HMRC sends a Notice to complete a Tax Return for the previous tax year to everyone who they know is required to complete one. If you do your return on paper, the Notice to File is the paper tax return itself.

If you usually do it online, HMRC sends you a letter (called the 'Notice to File') telling you to do the return online.

Tax return deadlines and late return penalties

31 October: paper returns

If you are sent a notice to complete a Tax Return before or on 31 July and you want to send a paper return you must send the completed return back to HMRC by 31 October.

If you are sent a notice to complete a tax return after 31 July you must send the completed paper tax return back by the later of 31 October or three months following the date of issue of the notice.

For paper returns that reach HMRC by this date they will:

  • calculate your tax for you (though you can calculate it for yourself if you want)
  • tell you what to pay by the following 31 January
  • collect tax through your tax code (if possible) where you owe less than £2,000 unless you tell them otherwise

If the paper return arrives after this deadline you may be charged a £100 penalty.

(Late Partnership returns attract a £100 penalty for each partner. Late Trust and Estate returns result in a £100 charge to the trust or estate).

(There are a very few cases where online tax returns can't be made. In these cases the deadline by which the paper return must reach HMRC is 31 January. See 'Deadlines for tax returns that can't be sent online' below).

30 December: online returns (for tax to be collected through your tax code)

If you send HMRC your tax return online you must send it back by this date if you want HMRC to collect tax through your tax code (if possible) where you owe less than £2,000. Otherwise you can send it up to 31 January.

31 January: online returns

Where a paper tax return or a notice to complete a tax return is issued before 31 July this is the deadline for sending back an online tax return.

Where a paper tax return or a notice to file a tax return is issued after 31 July the deadline for online filing is the later of three months following the date of issue of the return or 31 January following the end of the year of assessment.

If the paper return arrives after this deadline you may be charged a £100 penalty.

(This is also the deadline for paper returns where there isn't the option to file the return online. See 'Deadlines for tax returns that can't be sent online' below).

(Late Partnership returns attract a £100 penalty for each partner. Late Trust and Estate returns result in a £100 charge to the trust or estate).

Acknowledging the receipt of a tax return

Receipts are not provided for paper tax returns. If you file online you'll get an immediate, on-screen acknowledgment that HMRC has received your return.

Self Assessment payment deadlines and late payment penalties

31 January

If you were sent a notice to complete a tax return by the previous 31 October, then you must pay HMRC any balance of any tax you owe by 31 January. This is referred to as the 'balancing payment'. HMRC will charge you daily interest after this date, until they receive your payment.

This is also the date by which you may be asked to make any first 'payment on account' for the current tax year. For example, on 31 January 2009 you may have to pay both of the following:

  • the balance of tax owing for the year 2007-08
  • the first 'payment on account' for 2008-09

28 February

If you still haven't paid the balancing payment due by 31 January, you'll be charged an automatic 5 per cent surcharge on top of the amount still owing. This is in addition to any interest payments.

31 July

If you are due to make payments on account, this is the deadline for making a second 'payment on account' for tax owing for the preceding tax year.

If you still owe tax that you were due to pay by the previous 31 January, you'll be charged a second automatic 5 per cent surcharge on top of the amount you owe.

Tax returns received after 31 October

If you received your tax return (or Notice to file if you file online) after 31 October, you must complete and return it to HMRC within three months of the date of the receipt. As a rule you have 30 days from the date on the request for payment (called the 'Self Assessment Statement').

Payments on account and when you can ask for them to be adjusted

You'll be asked to make two 'payments on account' for the current tax year if the total tax due in the previous tax year is less than 80 per cent of the tax deducted at source through the PAYE (Pay As You Earn) system and your Self Assessment tax bill for the previous year was over £500 (£1000 from 6 April 2009 - tax year 2009-10). Each payment on account equals one half of the previous year's tax liability.

If you expect your income for the current year to be significantly different from the previous year you can ask for these payments to be adjusted.

Deadlines for tax returns that can't be sent online

There are a very few cases where online returns can't yet be made - for example if you are making a non-resident company landlord return. In these cases the paper tax return must be delivered to HMRC by the later of 31 January or three months after the date of issue of the tax return.

Late returns and requests for payment

If your tax return is late and HMRC think you have not paid enough tax on time they can estimate the amount of tax they think you should pay. This is called a 'determination' of tax due.

You can only update this determination by sending in your completed tax return. You may also be liable to penalties and surcharges.

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