File those returns now - or pay up
Over 3 million have just three weeks to meet the Inland Revenue's deadline
Sunday 11 January 1998
Some tax advisers are predicting that one million or more people will end up missing the 31 January deadline - incurring instant penalties totalling pounds 100m. Interest on unpaid tax from these and other late payers could take the penalty total to pounds 400m or more.
Most returns still outstanding are for self-employed people or those with additional freelance-type earnings, and in many cases these people will be relying on accountants or other tax advisers. But among those yet to file there are also thought to be hundreds of thousands of people with simpler tax affairs, such as those in the 40 per cent tax band who owe some extra tax on savings and investments.
The Revenue is predicting a mad rush over coming weeks to meet the end- of-month deadline - the first that really matters under the new self- assessment system that requires nine million people with earnings that have not been fully taxed to file new-style returns. The 31 January date is also the deadline for paying any tax owed. Tax unpaid by this date starts racking up interest at 9.5 per cent.
People filing returns now - and many of those who filed before Christmas - will almost certainly not receive a bill in time. Unless they want to incur interest, they will have to estimate the tax they owe and then pay at the end of January anyway.
Most returns still outstanding are thought to be from people with tax advisers, prompting suggestions that advisers may be sitting on returns until the last minute in the hope that Revenue officials will scrutinise the forms less carefully. The Revenue denies there is any advantage in waiting - and leaving it to the last minute could even mean a pounds 100 fine if the form should have any mistakes and need to be returned to the sender.
If you are a late filer and you do not want to use an accountant or tax adviser - and the Revenue claims there is no more need to than under the old system - it really is "crunch time". It is vital to at least look at the form now, even if you would rather put off the more ambitious part of filling it in for a little longer. You need to check you have the right pages and the right paperwork: if you do not, it may take some time to get them together.
DIYers, however late, may also be reassured by Revenue claims that 90 per cent of people who do not have an adviser have already managed to file. Two thirds of people surveyed also had no difficulty in completing their return, it adds. There is also a Revenue helpline open seven days a week until 10pm (0645 000 444) to help people fill in their forms although tax advisers are keen to point out that it will not provide tax-saving advice.
The greatest challenge may be for the self-employed or those with some earnings that have not been taxed. Many of these may face tax bills of many thousands of pounds and may be desperately rooting around for expenses to offset against their income. The explosion in mobile phone and home computer ownership may mean many people will be claiming for these for the first time. The self-assessment system does not require you to provide supporting receipts at the time of filing returns, but people should be aware that they may be required to justify claims for expenses. If they do not keep adequate records they could face a fine of up to pounds 3,000.
One in a thousand taxpayers under the new system has already been randomly (and secretly) selected for an "inquiry" - basically an audit of their tax return. And others should not assume that just because there is no immediate querying of a return that the Revenue will not question it subsequently.
Tax advisers say the Revenue has been operating a "process now, check later" system, which means tax bills going out now could prove to be wildly inaccurate.
One adviser claims that the Revenue is already aware of more than 70,000 "over-repayments" which it will be pursuing at a later date.
The important steps to take
Find that uncompleted return today and have a preliminary look: you may not be able to complete it straight away.
Check you have received all the pages you need. If not, call 0645 000 404 to order asap: this can take time.
Read through the return and make a list of all the paperwork you need. Collect all that paperwork: chase your employer; financial institutions may be able to give you figures by phone
Have the second sitting for filling in the return asap. Try not to leave it until the end of January. If you miss something out or make a mistake and the return has to be sent back, you will still be fined pounds 100 if you can't turn it round by 31 January.
As well as filling in your return you need to calculate your tax bill. It is highly unlikely the Revenue will now be able to get you a bill on time. The end of January is also the deadline for paying tax: don't pay on time and you will be charged interest at 9.5 per cent a year; don't get your return back in time and you will be fined pounds 100. So pay what you think you owe - if you pay too much, you will get a rebate.
If you pay by bank transfer, make sure your money leaves your account in time to get to the Revenue by the deadline.
Make use of the Revenue's helpline on 0645 000 444 if you have problems (open until 10pm every day), but don't expect tax-saving advice
*Ensure you sign your return and keep a copy
Keep the paperwork supporting your return for at least a year - in case you are selected for an "inquiry"
27 March 2015 08:30 PM
20 March 2015 07:30 PM
How to make the most of Isas: You can save more money now, the returns are tax-free and the rules are flexible
20 March 2015 07:30 PM
13 March 2015 09:00 PM
13 March 2015 09:00 PM
10 March 2015 09:03 AM
The Financial Conduct Authority found non-compliance in all reviewed firms
11 March 2015 11:38 AM
Pension expert John Lawson talks on why improved longevity is something to plan for carefully
06 March 2015 08:30 PM
02 March 2015 10:50 AM
The DWP and the FCA have joined forces to investigate transaction charges in occupational pension schemes
04 March 2015 03:00 PM
The company was found to have unacceptably long call waiting times
27 February 2015 07:30 PM
27 February 2015 07:30 PM
27 February 2015 12:01 AM
The NHS is currently bearing a yearly burden of approximately £1.5bn treating cold-related illnesses every winter
Debt in Britain: Numbers seeking help on how to cope with mounting bills goes up by more than half in three years
Bargain Hunter: BT improves its mobile reception with 'incredibly competitive' deals
Offset your mortgage and save thousands
How to keep down the costs of your child's private education
Simon Read: 'It went below the radar but you could be eligible for a tax break on your savings'
- 1 East 17 bandmember Brian Harvey in 'very desperate situation’
- 2 Germanwings plane crash: Video shows co-pilot Andreas Lubitz learning to fly as a teenager
- 3 Vladimir Putin says Russia will fight for the right of Palestinians to their own state
- 4 Germanwings crash: Captain of doomed plane was only 'on board because he changed job to spend more time with his children'
- 5 WrestleMania 31 results: Seth Rollins stuns WWE as he cashes in Money in the Bank contract to claim title from Brock Lesnar
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This multi-award winning foreig...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...
£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...
Day In a Page
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station