Money Q&A: Remember, remember the end of September

You recently suggested the much-advertised tax deadline of 30 September isn't what it seems. Would you restate in the most unambiguous terms exactly what this means?


There's a lot of misunderstanding around. You have had your tax return since April. Why not fill it in as soon as possible and get it out of the way? But, if you are an incurable procrastinator, you still have until 31 January 1999 to send back your 1997/8 return. If you miss that deadline, it will cost you pounds 100.

This date is also a payment deadline. If your payment is late, it starts accruing interest, currently 9.5 per cent - not too expensive against many other loans, including overdrafts and credit cards. But if you still haven't paid the tax by 28 February 1999, Inland Revenue "borrowing" becomes expensive, with a 5 per cent surcharge.

To guarantee you will get a tax bill by 31 January 1999, the Revenue says it must receive your completed tax return by 30 September 1998. But your bill may come before 31 January, even if you miss this deadline.

For its own convenience, the Revenue is happy for people to think 30 September has another significance. Journalists, accountants and others have played along with this. Many people who miss the deadline mistakenly believe they will have to work out their own tax bill. They may pay an accountant or other tax professional hundreds of pounds to do it. But you can always ask the tax office to work out the bill, whenever you send in your tax return.

What if your tax office does not send you a tax bill in time to pay by 31 January, because you did not get your form in by 30 September? Work out roughly what is due (possibly based on what you paid last January) and pay that amount.

One other possible complication. If you pay most of your tax under PAYE, but still owe some higher rate tax or tax on non-PAYE income, this can also be collected under PAYE - if you get your tax return back by 30 September. If you don't, you will have to pay the tax in a lump sum on 31 January.

Future windfalls

We are thinking of buying a wreck of a property in France. To raise as much cash as possible, we want to close our Halifax account, with pounds 10,000 in it, and sell our Halifax shares. If we do this, could we be losing out on any future bonus or windfall?


There is no prospect of Halifax customers benefiting from further windfalls as they no longer own the Halifax. You have nothing to lose by closing accounts. This applies to all ex-building societies and previously mutually- owned insurance companies converted to plc status.

You do still part-own the Haifax through your shareholding, and your shares may benefit from a further windfall, such as a takeover bid. But pundits reckon that Halifax is too large for an early takeover. It may be some years, after financial services companies have merged, consolidated, and become more international and fewer in number, before Halifax seems like a minnow to be gulped up.

Smaller ex-societies such as Alliance & Leicester and Woolwich may be better candidates.

Write to the personal finance editor, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, and include a phone number; or fax 0171-293 2096; or e-mail

Do not enclose SAEs or any documents you want back. We can't give personal replies, or guarantee to answer letters. We accept no legal responsibility for advice given.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Neil Pavier: Commercial Analyst

£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...

Loren Hughes: Financial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Loren Hughes: Are you looking for a new opportunity that wi...

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Sheridan Maine: Financial Accountant

£150 - £190 Daily Rate: Sheridan Maine: One of London's leading water supplier...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor