Online Self-Assesment Deadline: Act Now

January 31st is the deadline day for getting your tax self-assessment details back to the HMRC, if you’re unlucky enough to have to file your tax returns.

But despite this date being the deadline for electronic returns (paper returns had to be in by 31st October 2008), you should apply before Wednesday 21st January to get the necessary passwords and activation codes, which are then sent to you via 20th century snail mail.

If you apply after that date the HMRC cannot guarantee that you’ll get the necessary details in time to beat the deadline (although I guess there’s still a chance you might). The HMRC estimates that there are 3 million people still to file returns, of the 9 million people who have to do it.

What happens if you fail to get your returns in on time, and miss the deadline?

Well, you’ll be hit by a £100 fine for starters, and will start to owe interest on any unpaid tax. From 28th Feb, an extra 5% is levied on the amount of unpaid tax outstanding at that date, plus interest on top of that! So as you can see, there’s plenty of incentive to get your application in on time. 

Think the tax man will be lenient this year given the current economic conditions?

Think again – the HMRC is under pressure to maximise the amount of money it brings in for the Government, so according to some accountants and tax experts, they’re unlikely to be too forgiving.

However, if you think you are going to miss the deadline, you should notify the HMRC as soon as possible (preferably before the deadline date comes and goes), or if you have problems filing online, you can use their “reasonable excuse” forms to try to avoid getting fined. They also now have  their Business Payment Support Service to help you should you think you’ll have difficulties paying your tax bill.

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