Don’t miss the self-assessment deadline

With only a few months left to ensure that their tax returns are completed correctly and filed on time, businesses and individuals are being encouraged to seek help.

Those required or who have elected to complete a self-assessment tax return must prepare their annual records before the end of the fiscal year.

Whilst the paper deadline for tax return closed on 31 October, the online tax return must be with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) by midnight on 31 January 2017. This date is also applicable for the final payment of any tax due.

Failure to send a tax return and pay any outstanding tax could lead to severe penalties, starting with a £100 automatic fine applied to all online tax returns if they are late by just one day.

After three months, any late returns will be subject to a penalty of £10 per day for each day the tax is due, up to a maximum of 90 days and a maximum of £900, as well as interest on the outstanding tax.

Any return that is six months late will be subject to a fine of £300 or 5 per cent of the tax due, whichever is the higher. For returns which are 12 months late, another £300 or 5 per cent fine of the tax due will added to the final bill.

If a person is unsure of his/hers self-assessment and tax payment commitments they should seek professional advice sooner, rather than later to avoid any penalties.

It is important to ensure all the details required to complete a self-assessment return are with an accountant ahead of the deadline so that they can prepare an accurate return.

The deadline for self-assessment also provides the perfect opportunity to minimise any liabilities through careful tax planning.

Submitting a return earlier will gives accountants additional time to identify potential tax saving through careful planning. There are a wide range of tax reliefs available to business and individuals including R&D tax credits, relief on charitable donations, private pension contributions, and work expenses.

However Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of taxation at accountancy body the ACCA, has issued an additional word of warning this year.

He said: “The paper deadline is particularly important this year for those using older computers and browsers, as HMRC systems will now only allow filing of online returns through more recent technology,” he said.

“While the move to more secure browsers is a sensible one, it may come as an unwelcome shock to those who might be faced with upgrading technology that they don’t really understand or feel comfortable if they miss the paper deadline.”

Anyone using an older browser, such as Internet Explorer 8, will need to update it or use a different browser in order to file their returns online by the end of January.