Sending your Self Assessment tax return
You must send your online Self Assessment tax return by midnight on Thursday 31 January 2013.
The deadline is only later than 31 January if HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) sent you the letter, telling you to complete a tax return, after 31 October 2012. In this case you'll have three months from the date of the letter.
Getting ready to use HMRC Online Services
You send your tax return online using the HMRC Self Assessment Online service.
If you're new to online filing
If you haven't sent a Self Assessment tax return online before, you must first sign up to use HMRC Online Services. You needed to do this by 21 January 2013. This earlier date was to make sure you received your Activation Code in time to send your tax return by 31 January.
Although you may not now receive your Activation Code in time, you should still sign up for HMRC Online Services as soon as you can. Once you get your Activation Code, you should send your tax return online straight away. If you don't, the penalty may be higher.
You can find out more about penalties in the section 'What happens if you miss the tax return deadline' below.
When you sign-up you can give HMRC your email address. Then, if you forget either your User ID or your password in future, you'll be able to go online and get a new one sent to you by email.
If you've sent your tax return online before
If you've used the Self Assessment service before, use the log in link below.
Make sure you know your User ID and password
If you only use Self Assessment Online once a year, it's worth checking that you know what your User ID and password are well before the deadline.
If you've lost either your User ID or password
If you’ve lost either your User ID or your password, you can get a new one. You may not now receive your new User ID or password in time to send your tax return online by 31 January. You should still send your tax return online as soon as you can. Follow the link below and select the 'Lost User ID' or 'Lost password' link.
If you've lost both your User ID and password
Normally if you have lost both your ID and password, you have to call HMRC. This year a pilot scheme has been introduced for Self Assessment customers. This allows you to send an online form instead.
You will be asked for some personal data when you complete the form. This allows HMRC to make security checks. If you pass the checks, you will be sent a replacement User ID in the post. You'll then be able to request a new password online. Your password will be sent to you by email, if you've provided a current email address, or by post if not.
This pilot is currently available if you need to get online to complete your personal tax return, for example if you're self-employed, an employee or a pensioner. It isn't yet available for partnerships, tax agents or advisers.
Important: When completing the online form, please ensure you provide accurate information, for example, your Unique Tax Reference (UTR). If the details you have provided on the online form are not accurate, HMRC will not be able to send your User ID and you will have to telephone the Online Services Helpdesk. Please do not use this online form if you have not previously activated the Self Assessment online service.
If you have problems logging in
If you enter the wrong User ID or password three times, your Self Assessment Online account will be locked for the next two hours. After this time you can log in again with your correct User ID and password.
You can send most tax returns online. You can either use the free HMRC service or buy commercial software. You still need to register for HMRC Online Services first, whichever option you choose.
In some cases you may have to use commercial software, as the free HMRC service doesn't cover all of the online forms. To find out what's covered by the free HMRC service or if you will need to buy commercial software, follow the link below.
For help with completing your tax return online
If you use the HMRC online tax return, you'll be able to click on help text on each page for more information.
You can also look at the HMRC online tax demonstrator before you start.
Check for any service issues
HMRC will try to let you know if there are any known issues with this year's Self Assessment online service. They will tell you what to do to resolve them, if possible, so that you can still send in your tax return on time.
Read any error messages
Read any error message you get when you're completing your tax return. These will help you correct the entry straight away. It may be something simple. For example you may have used text or punctuation that the online service doesn't accept, or used the return key to start a new line in a box for information.
Make sure you submit your tax return
You don't have to complete your tax return all in one go. You may need to check some facts and figures first. But make sure that you do come back and complete and submit your tax return before the deadline. You'll be asked to enter your User ID and password again. You'll get an on-screen acknowledgement that your tax return has been sent.
You must pay any amount due for 2011-12 by 31 January 2013. The payment deadline is the same whether you send a paper or an online tax return.
HMRC recommends that you make your Self Assessment payments electronically. It's safe and secure and provides certainty about when your payment will reach HMRC.
When you make a payment, be sure to use the right reference number. It's called a Unique Taxpayer Reference or UTR. For example 1234567890K.
Follow the links below for more information about all the available payment options, reference numbers and your Self Assessment Statement.
If you miss the 31 January deadline for online tax returns, you will have to pay a penalty.
The penalty is £100. You'll still have to pay this even if
- your tax return is just a day late
- you have no tax to pay
- you pay all the tax you owe before 31 January 2013
The longer you delay, the more you'll have to pay. There are additional penalties when your tax return is three, six and twelve months late. Together these could add up to a penalty of £1,600 or more, so make sure you get your tax return in on time.
Don’t send a paper tax return now - the deadline was 31 October 2012. You'll have to pay a £100 penalty straight away if you do and the daily penalties above will start even earlier. Send it online instead.
Having a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline
You may not have to pay a penalty if you have a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline. For example, there may have been an unexpected or unusual event, beyond your control, which meant you couldn’t send your return on time.
Follow the link below to find out more about having a reasonable excuse and how to appeal against HMRC decisions, including penalties.