Money Nous: No need to panic, says Revenue

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FOR years the format of a tax return seemed designed to turn the whole nation into a state of blind panic. Staring you in the face were the warning words: 'You are required by law to fill in this form, and send it back within 30 days. If you do not, you may have to pay interest on tax you owe and perhaps also a penalty.'

For anyone who was not used to the little ways of the Inland Revenue, the whole house would be turned upside down trying to find all the bits of paper to meet the 30-day deadline. After all, no one wants to pay interest on tax due and certainly not any penalties.

However, people in the know knew that in reality the Revenue did not bother to pursue the 30-day deadline. In practical terms, you had until 31 October to send back your tax return.

This year the Inland Revenue has decided to tell everyone not to panic.

The 1994 tax return still has the warning that the law says there is a 30-day deadline. But there is the extra titbit of advice: 'The Inland Revenue will not seek interest simply because of delay, provided that the return is sent back by 31 October (or within 30 days of issue if it was sent to you after 2 October 1994).'

Martin Donn, a partner at the London chartered accountants Blick Rothenberg, says: 'The 30-day limit is the law, which the Revenue can fall back on when it needs to. The 31 October is a concession, which some people, but not everyone, know about.

'It is a nice gesture by the Revenue to put the information on the tax returns, so everyone is on an equal footing.'

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