Completing the Tax Return Form

Completing your tax return can be both frustrating and time-consuming but the whole process can be made a lot easier by understanding the processes and procedures beforehand.

You can complete your annual return on paper or online- using either HMRC software or one of the many readily available commercial softwares on the market. We recommend doing this online as it is quicker, prevents delays and there is no chance of it getting lost in the post.

The deadline for sending your tax return back

The deadlines differ depending on how you send your return back- these are called the filing dates. The deadline for paper tax return is 31 October following the end of the tax year, and this is the date HMRC must receive your annual return. If you are completing this online, HMRC must receive your tax return by 31 January following the end of the tax year.

It is very important you meet these deadlines as failing to do so will automatically incur a late filing penalty of £100. Another £100 penalty will be incurred if this is still outstanding after six months.

If you send your tax return by paper and you miss the 31 October deadline, you cannot avoid paying the late filing penalty by switching to the online return deadline of 31 January. If your tax amount is less than £100 however, HMRC may reduce the penalty to an amount that is equal to the tax that is due.

Paper Tax Return

HMRC guarantees to calculate your tax bill and let you know the result before the payment deadline of 31 January following the end of the tax year, providing you send your paper return by the filing date. If you send your return after the filing date, HMRC cannot guarantee to calculate your tax bill and tell you the result in time for any 31 January payment.

If you would like to calculate your tax bill yourself, or if your paper return is late, you can ask the HMRC for their Tax Calculation Summary pages and notes to help you work out your tax bill. The number to contact HMRC on for this is 0845 9000 404. You do not need to send the supplementary pages HMRC send you as part of your tax return.

Online Tax Return

The HMRC online return service is easy to use and saves time compared to the paper version. In order to be able to use the online service, you must first register by going to the HMRC website and following the registration process. HMRC will then send you a Personal Identification Number (PIN) and this can take up to seven days. Therefore we highly recommend you do not leave registering for the online service until 31 January. Remember, if you do then your return will be late and you will incur the late filing penalty- therefore do it will in advance.

A series of questions will be asked by the online tax return system to bring forward only the relevant parts of the tax return that apply to you. The system will then do the calculations for you and will provide an on-screen help for you as you go along. The system has other built-in checks to assist you in getting your tax return right.

Once you have completed the online return you will receive an acknowledgement of receipt.

Keeping records

To fill in a complete and correct tax return, you must by law keep all records. If your annual return is incomplete and you are found by HMRC to owe tax, you may be required to pay interest and a penalty- so keep all records and get it right in the first place.

Using provisional and estimated figures

If you are waiting for some of the information which you need for your annual return, you can use provisional figures to avoid delaying filing your tax return. If you are using provisional figures, remember to draw attention to this in the ‘Any other information’ box on the paper return or in the white space on the online return. Please remember to replace your provision figures with the final ones as soon as you know them.

Sometimes you may have to estimate an amount, for example, the private proportion of motoring expenses or the cost of using part of your home for business use. You do not need to replace this figures and you do not have to draw attention to this kind of estimate. You will find available guidance about this on the tax return.