The self-assessment deadline is just days away, on 31 January 2023. So, if you’ve not submitted your tax return for the 2021-2022 tax year, you’d better get a move on to avoid facing fines of at least £100.

In this blog I’ll share my top tips for taxpayers and tax agents to help them get through this busy, and often challenging, period. Plus, I’ll provide useful information about the help and support out there.

Have you submitted your self-assessment tax return?

Taxpayers have until midnight on Tuesday 31 January to file their self-assessment tax return for the 2021 to 2022 tax year and pay any tax owed.

HMRC expects more than 12 million people to submit their returns by this date. But, as of 3 January, around 5.7 million were still due to meet the deadline.

Meanwhile, almost 65,000 taxpayers paid nearly £67 million in self-assessment tax bills via the HMRC app between April and December 2022.

My top tips if you’ve left your tax return to the last minute

Some of our clients do leave their self-assessment tax returns to the last minute, but that’s the same for all tax adviser firms and accountants.

If you’re a taxpayer who is struggling to find an accurate piece of information, it’s better to file an estimated tax return and then change it later. You have 12 months to correct your tax return, so this is an acceptable way of avoiding penalties, provided your tax return is amended when the information becomes available.

Advice for tax agents in the run-up to the self-assessment deadline

This time of year is hectic for most tax advisers and accountants. It’s not only the tax return preparation, it’s helping clients with making payments, reducing payments on account and all the other tax return administration that comes up.

Very often, advisers are so snowed under that clients won’t be able to get hold of them. This frustrates many people. But unless it’s crucial the matter is dealt with before 31 January, it’s better for advisers to get their heads down to make sure the tax returns are sent on time. They can deal with other queries in February when they have more time.

If you’re a tax adviser or accountant who is feeling under pressure, it’s important to focus and prioritise. You could turn on an ‘out of office’ notification explaining it’s a busy time and giving your clients an idea of turnaround times.

Managing your customers’ expectations is key. We carry out a lot of advisory work, as well as tax returns, and while it’s important to ensure advisory deadlines don’t slip, very often tax return deadlines take priority in January.

And if a client turns up on 31 January asking for their tax return to be prepared by ‘close of play’, it’s OK to say, ‘Sorry, but no’.

Do you need help with your tax return?

If you need help completing your tax return, there’s a range of resources available, including guidance online, webinars and YouTube videos.

For professional support, you can seek the help of a tax adviser or accountant but bear in mind most won’t have availability to take on extra work before this month’s deadline. However, specialist help may be something to consider for future tax returns – just remember to get your tax agent booked early to avoid missing out on valuable support.

And HMRC is urging people to check online for help before calling them during what is their busiest time of the year.

What about help with tax payments?

If you can’t pay what you owe in full, you may be able to set up a Time to Pay payment plan with HMRC, so you can spread the cost into monthly instalments. You may be able to do this online via the GOV.UK website or you can call the helpline on 0300 200 3835.

Anyone who files after 31 January may face a penalty. But HMRC said it would treat people with genuine excuses leniently, as it focuses on those who persistently fail to complete their tax returns and deliberate tax evaders. If you give HMRC a reasonable excuse before the 31 January deadline, you can avoid a penalty.

What fines could you face if you miss the self-assessment deadline?

The deadline to send a paper tax return has passed and returns can only be submitted online.

The penalties for filing your tax return late are:

  • An initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if you have no tax to pay, or if you pay the tax due on time
  • After three months, extra daily fines of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900
  • After six months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater
  • After 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater

There are also additional penalties for paying late of 5% of the tax unpaid at 30 days, six months and 12 months.

Help with self-assessment tax returns

At Churchill Taxation, we can take away your tax return headache by tackling this energy-sapping task on your behalf.

Get in touch with our team of professional tax advisers on 07813 434195 or email: stephanie.churchill@churchilltaxation.co.uk

Steph Churchill

Stephanie Churchill

Managing director & co-owner of Churchill Taxation