Self-Assessment Tax Return Deadline Looming

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is warning that anyone who still has to file a self-assessment tax return must do so electronically by 31 January 2013 and that being even one day late will incur a £100 late filing penalty.

In addition, for those who are new to online filing, they must obtain an activation code from HMRC by January 21 or they will not be able to file in time.

Taxpayers will need their Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and separate user ID in order to file their return, so even if people have filed a return electronically before, the department is asking them to check that they have these references well ahead of the deadline, as it will take at least seven days for HMRC to reissue them by post.

Having said that, the department is running a pilot this year, whereby people can request the information online, as long as they have issued the taxman with an email address in the past. This will probably be much easier for most people than trying to get through to the department by telephone.

Once an individual is ready to file, they must ensure that they have the relevant forms and information ready in order to complete the return, such as their P60, details of any interest or dividends they have been paid and all invoices and receipts they have issued or accrued over the year if they are self-employed. Once the return is finished, the tax that is owed must be paid by the 31 January deadline.

Penalties for late filing can be punitive. People who file later than three months after the deadline will start to be penalised at a rate of £10 per day up to a maximum of £900 and could eventually be fined up to 100 per cent of the tax due if they are a year late.