Deadline looms for tax returns

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Published: Wednesday 28th January 2015 by The News Editor

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More than two million people still need to submit their tax return ahead of Saturday’s deadline, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has said.

So far, the taxman has received around 8.7 million self-assessment returns, leaving more than two million still needing to be submitted.

The deadline for submitting an online self-assessment tax return and paying any tax due is midnight on January 31.

Those in self-assessment who fail to meet this face an initial fixed penalty of £100, even if there is no tax to pay, plus interest on any tax not paid by the due date . All tax returns which are still outstanding must be submitted online, as the deadline for filing paper returns passed on October 31 last year.

On last year’s deadline day, 557,000 people scrambled to get their returns in online.

Recent analysis by HMRC suggests that women are more likely to get their tax returns in on time than men. For every 10,000 tax returns received last year by HMRC from men, 394 were after the relevant deadlines, compared with 358 late returns for every 10,000 received from women.

Some “terrible tax excuses” seen by the taxman in the past for people missing the deadline include: “My pet dog ate my tax return – and all the reminders,” as well as: “I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a postbox or get an internet signal,” and: ” I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.”

An excuse given by a late filer tried to lay the blame at the President of the United States for their tardiness, saying : ” Barack Obama is in charge of my finances,” also failed.

Another excuse from someone else which was also unsuccessful was: “I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency.”

If someone cannot pay because of an unforeseen, serious event outside of their control, they should get in touch as soon as possible, HMRC said.

Offering tips on submitting self-assessment returns, HMRC said people should gather all their information, such as P60s and bank statements, in one place, to make filling in the return more seamless. The system saves information as people go along, so they can take breaks and come back to complete their return.

If someone realises that they have made a mistake after submitting their return, they should wait for 42 hours and then go back into their online account to correct this, it said.

It also said that people should fill in actual figures and not write “information to follow”.

Help on filing a return is available from the gov.uk website or the self-assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310. Customers with general tax queries can also tweet the @HMRCcustomers Twitter feed. Tweets should not include personal information.

Published: Wednesday 28th January 2015 by The News Editor

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