First-timers urged to file tax returns early

29 December 2017
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Self-employed people are being urged to file their tax returns as soon as possible, particularly if they are doing so for the first time.

All self-assessment tax returns for the 2016/17 tax year must be filed online with HMRC by Wednesday 31 January 2018. The deadline for submitting a paper return has now passed.

However, those who are filing a return for the first time are being urged to act now to ensure they have enough time to register with HMRC before the deadline.

Insurer Royal London says that many first timers do not leave enough time to register themselves and end up missing the deadline.

When registering to file a tax return for the first time, users must enrol with HMRC and wait for a Unique Tax Reference (UTR) to be posted to them.

This can take up to 10 working days, so those filing for the first time are being urged to act soon to ensure they leave enough time before the 31 January deadline.

As well as the self-employed, those with a taxable income of more than £100,000 (or £50,000 if you or your partner claimed child benefit) are also required to fill in a tax return each year.

Those with an income from savings or investments of more than £10,000 are also required to fill in a return. In total, 11 million people will be required to file a tax return for the 2016/17 tax year. A full list of who must submit a return is available on the HMRC website.

Remember, you may still have to fill in a self-assessment form even if no tax is owed.

Helen Morrissey, personal finance specialist at Royal London, says that filing your tax return as early as possible is best practice.

“There are occasions when filing your tax return late is unavoidable in which case let HMRC know as soon as possible as they can waive fines if you have a reasonable excuse,” she says.

“However, HMRC is unlikely to be sympathetic if you tell them you didn’t give yourself enough time to fill out the forms and so you could find yourself with a £100 fine for starters.

“Delays often happen because people don’t realise how long things such as tax references can take to come through or it can take time to collect the necessary paperwork. Getting organised now can save you a lot of stress as well as money further down the line.”

Read more about paying less tax on Moneywise.

Comments

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I've been doing my self-assessment tax return online for many years so have a Government Gateway account. Last January when attempting to login to complete my tax return for year ending 05 Apr 2016 I discovered that an additional layer of security had been added and I was asked if I had a UK passport or photocard driving licence. My passport had expired and I had the old paper driving licence so I could not login. I complained that that I had a Govt Gateway account and not only had I been completing my tax return online for years but I was in receipt of my State Pension so I was already known to the Government. All this fell on bureaucratic deaf ears and I was unable to login!My advice for first-timers is that as well as registering for a Govt. Gateway account do make sure that you have either a passport or photocard driving licence.

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