This is a question we have been asked regularly this year, and the answer is "Not necessarily".
31 October is a very real deadline but it is not the only one.
Effectively, changes to the Self Assessment rules mean there are now two final deadlines, depending on how you submit your return. You can do this by either (i) completing the original by hand and sending it to your tax office, or (ii) submitting an electronic version using the internet filing system.
· If you send the paper version back, the deadline is 31 October 2008.
· If you file via the internet, the deadline is 31 January 2009.
Another very important change to the rules must be noted.
The previous early deadline of 30 September did not really mean much other than the Revenue not guaranteeing to calculate your tax on time.
Now though, if you send a paper return, and you do not get it in by 31 October, you will be fined £100.
However, if you send your return electronically, you will have until 31 January before there is a late filing penalty.
What this means is that missing the October deadline does not actually mean you will be fined. That will only happen if you subsequently send in a paper return. The way round it is to then arrange for your return to be sent electronically.
This can be done yourself, using the Revenue online filing system. Alternatively, accountants will use Tax Return software to complete your return and then send it via the internet. You will avoid paying the fine either way.
Mike Parkes is senior manager at TWD Accountants Ltd, who offer a fixed fee service for completing tax returns and accounts. An advert for TWD Accountants Ltd appears in this issue or go to www.twdaccounts.co.uk/swpp
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