Missed the Deadline? Don't Panic

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EVEN IF you missed the deadline last Wednesday, you may still be able to get the Inland Revenue to work out the tax you owe with plenty of time to spare. The Revenue guarantees to work out the tax due for all returns received by midnight on 30 September in time for taxpayers to meet next January's payment deadline. But that does not mean they will simply reject any forms received after 30 September.

David Stubbs, of North Devon tax consultants Stubbs Associates says: "The cut-off date is not the final countdown to penalties as many taxpayers fear. It is more of a marketing tool used by the Revenue to ensure a steady workflow for the civil servants waiting at their desks. They are there to help, so it's worth a telephone call to ask if you can file late and still get them to calculate the tax due."

If you want to take advantage of this route, it still makes sense to get your return in as soon as possible. This gives the Revenue the best possible chance of getting it sorted out in time. Revenue figures show that about 82 per cent of returns received early at the Woolwich had already been processed by the 30 September deadline. The alternative to relying on the Revenue's calculations is to tackle the sums yourself or pay an accountant to do it. If you got your own form in to your tax office in the small hours of Thursday, it will still count as a 30 September delivery.

If you fail to get your 1997/1998 return in by 31 January, you will be charged an automatic penalty fine of pounds 100; 31 January is also the payment deadline for any unpaid tax due from 1997/1998, and interest at 9.5 per cent is charged from 1 February. A surcharge of 5 per cent is imposed on sums still unpaid by 28 February and another 5 per cent surcharge imposed on sums still unpaid by 31 July.