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tax return

You’ve less than a week to get your tax return in

The 31 January deadline for online tax submissions isn’t far away, yet a third of people are still to send their forms in – which could end up in a £100 penalty. – even if you have no tax to pay.

What is a tax return?

A tax return is an annual statement of income and personal circumstances, used by HMRC to assess liability for tax.

On a tax return, you tell HMRC not just about your income, but also capital gains (profits on the sales of certain assets, such as a house).

You can also claim tax allowances or relief via a tax return.  An example of a tax allowance for someone who is self-employed would be travel costs, such as fuel or parking.

Who needs to fill out a tax return?

Not everybody needs to complete a tax return.

According to HMRC, you must always send a tax return if you’re self-employed, a partner in a business partnership or a company director.

However, if you are contacted by HMRC and asked to fill one in , you must submit it even if you think you will have no tax to pay or you’ve already paid it.

So, for example, you may need to complete a tax return even if you currently pay tax through PAYE (Pay As You Earn).

PAYE is the money that is taken away from your wages by tax. Every time you're paid, your boss takes your tax and NI from your wages and sends it on to HMRC.

Many people believe simply paying their tax via PAYE does not require them to complete a tax return. This is a common mistake. You may have to submit a return if, for example, you have a second job.

If you’re not sure whether you need a tax return or not, you can call the Self-Assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310.

Filling out your tax return – the timings you need to know

The tax year begins on 6 April and ends on the following 5 April.

In April each year, HMRC will send you a letter telling you to complete an online or a paper tax for the tax year that has just ended.

There are different deadlines for these - 31 October after the end of the tax year for paper returns, and 31 January after the end of the tax year for online tax returns.

This is also the final payment deadline for the balance of what you owe for the previous tax year.

If you miss the paper deadline, you can submit your return online.

Fines for late tax returns

If you miss the tax deadline, even if you have no tax to pay, you are automatically hit with a £100 fine.

You’ll have to pay more if it’s later than this, or if you pay late.

HMRC has a tool you can use to estimate the cost of your penalty if you do pay late.


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