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Countdown to 31st January: Deloitte’s Top Tips for Tackling Your Self-Assessment Form…

Submitted by on January 19, 2015 – 6:00 am |

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  • Last year HMRC reported that of the 10 million returns due by 31 January, some 8.48 million returns were filed online;
  • Over 550,000 were filed on 31 January 2014;
  • Around 21,000 were between 11pm and midnight.

Patricia Mock, Deloitte tax director, says: “Many people only begin to think about filing a tax return as the new year starts. However, leaving it until the last minute is not sensible or good for the blood pressure, particularly as there is a £100 penalty if a return is filed late, whether or not the tax due has been paid. Last year around 750,000 returns were filed late.”

Deloitte’s top tips to filing a self-assessment form with ease:

1. Do you have tax to pay?
Even if a return has not been issued by HMRC, it is up to taxpayers to notify HMRC that they have tax to pay and to register for self-assessment and file a return. Technically, notification of chargeability needs to be done by 5 October following the tax year, and there are penalties for late notification. However, if the tax is paid by 31 January 2015 there is no penalty for late notification.

Many people are not aware of whether they have extra tax to pay, but this may well be the case if you are for example self-employed, receive rental income,  have untaxed income such as bank interest, or have made capital gains over the annual exemption of £10,900 for 2013/14.

2. Make sure you register to pay early
If you do need to register, this can be done online at This will generate a Unique Tax Reference and mean that a tax return will be issued.  Registration for online filing is a separate process and is done at Note that this process can take a number of days as HMRC need to send an activation code (which must be activated) in order to use the account. HMRC states that getting an activation code takes seven working days, but up to 21 if the taxpayer is abroad, so an early start is essential.

Once an account has been activated most returns can be filed online and this is reasonably straightforward using HMRC software. However in some cases, those with income from partnerships or trusts or estates, HMRC software cannot be used and separate software will need to be purchased. Such returns can be filed on paper but only up to 31 October in the previous year, so this is now not an option.

3. Making sure you have the paperwork to hand
Remember to get all the relevant information together before you start to work on the return, covering not only income, but also claims for deductions,  for example; expenses of self-employment and rental income, pension contributions other than those deducted from pay by employers, Gift Aid contributions etc. Whilst provisional figures can be used if the final figure is not available, it is important to provide the final figure as soon as possible.  Also bear in mind that HMRC can charge penalties when returns are amended if the original return is considered to have been filed ‘carelessly’, this can be widely interpreted by HMRC.

Other things to consider include:

4. Do you receive child benefit?
Others affected are those who have received child benefit where the higher earner in a couple has an income of over £50,000, so that this needs to be clawed back through the self-assessment system by the higher earner. If the higher earner has income of over £60,000 the full child benefit will be clawed back, and couples in this position might wish to notify HMRC that they do not wish to receive child benefit, so that this clawback complication is avoided.  This can be done at

5. Remember the deadline to amend
For those who filed 2012/13 returns, the deadline to amend these is 31 January 2015. If any provisional figures were included, or any mistakes were made, these should be corrected by this date.

6. Higher rate tax papers and Gift Aid
Finally, for those higher rate taxpayers who make charitable contributions under Gift Aid, remember that contributions made in 2014/15 can be carried back to 2013/14 to get the higher rate relief (which must be claimed in the tax return) earlier. However, this only applies to contributions made before the earlier of 31 January 2015 and the date the 2013/14 return is filed.  Someone considering a large donation might like to ensure that this is made before the return is filed so that higher rate tax relief can be claimed a year earlier than would otherwise have been the case.

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