Beginner's Guide To: Tax returns

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The Independent Online

Do I need to complete a tax return?

If you have a salaried job where you pay tax as you earn and have no other income then you don't need to complete a tax return. If you have any other earnings from freelance work, rental properties or if you're self-employed, a company director, a religious minister or earn income from a trust, then you must file a return. Anyone earning £100,000 a year or more, or who has savings and investments of more than £10,000, must also fill one in.

How do I go about filing my tax return?

You can either complete a paper form (download it from the HMRC website), and send it in the post, or complete and file your return online. If you want to file online, however, you'll need to register, which means finding your unique taxpayer reference (UTR). This should be on correspondence between you and HM Revenue & Customs. Or you can get it by calling HMRC.

What are the deadlines?

Paper tax returns, for the tax year that ended in April, must be received by 31 October. If you owe tax under £2,000 and want HMRC to collect it through your tax code (rather than a lump sum payment), then you'll need to file by 30 December. The final deadline for receiving returns – and the deadline for paying your tax for 07/08 – is 31 January. You'll also need to make the first payment on your projected tax for the 08/09 tax year by this date, with the second instalment due by 31 July. If you're late, you'll be fined.

How much can I be fined?

If you haven't paid up by 28 February, you'll be fined 5 per cent of your tax bill, and interest will be added to your unpaid tax. If you still haven't paid by 31 July, you'll be charged another 5 per cent. If you file your paper return after 31 October, or you file online returns after 31 January, you'll be hit with a £100 fine. For more information, visit or call 0845 900 0444.

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