File your Tax Return by 31 January or Pay the Penalty - part 1 of 1

Published 01/12/2009

Figures released by HM Revenue and Customs seem to show that people are still waiting until the last minute to send in their returns, although many are taking advantage of Online Filing.

More than 9 million Self Assessment returns are issued annually, then blanket media coverage warns them of the penalties for sending them back late, and yet every year almost one in ten people miss the deadline. This automatically gives getting on for a million people a £100 fine, and it can increase if the return is delayed even longer - the worst offenders can be fined up to £60 per day.

If you have not submitted your return yet, don't worry, you still have time to get it in. However, you should be prepared to join a queue as even those that do get theirs in on time seem to leave it until the last minute.

Last year saw 150,000 returns submitted in the final 24 hours.

Should you file online though? Yes. HMRC are rightly proud of their online filing system - it's a very efficient way to get your return submitted.

There appears to be more acceptance of internet filing than previously. Last year for instance saw a 40% increase in online filing, with 2.9 million returns.

Interestingly, statistics also show 489 people filed their return on Christmas Day, and nearly 3,500 on New Years Day.

One thing that must be remembered is that there is a registration process and the last day you can register is 22 January. After registration it takes up to seven days for a PIN to be sent to you. This means you must leave yourself plenty of time. It is also worth noting that, at the peak of activity last year, the HMRC website saw more than 6,000 returns per hour submitted - over 100 a minute.

Whichever method you choose, our advice is never to leave it until the last minute. At the least it becomes fraught, but it can also mean mistakes are made that could cost you money.

Your Questions Answered

by the Experts

Have you got a topic or general tax question you want us to cover in the next Q & A issue? Then email

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

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1st Published 01/12/2009
last update 21/07/2022 10:42:40

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