Tax return warning for offline customersFiling online now the only way to avoid being late

11 November 2010

sending a tax return

The penalty for missing your tax return deadline can be high - so ensure you are organised and on time

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has issued a warning to anyone who hasn’t yet sent in their 2009/10 self-assessment tax return, reminding them that the deadline for filing a tax return on paper has now passed.

Anyone used to filing their tax return in the traditional way should have done so by 31 October 2010. If you prefer to fill in a paper tax return and send it to HMRC by post, it’s already too late for you to do so – and if you send in a paper return now, you’ll probably face a £100 fine.

However, it is still possible to file your tax return online and avoid a penalty, as the deadline for online returns does not fall until 31 January 2011.

Our Tax calculator is also a useful tool for ensuring you pay the correct amount of tax for the year 2009-10.

Filing your tax return online

Filing your tax return online has several advantages, as we explain on the Online returns page of the Which? Tax returns advice guide.

In addition to having a later deadline than people who fill in paper tax returns, those who choose to file online will have their tax liability automatically worked out for them by HMRC’s software. You’re also likely to get any tax rebate you’re owed more quickly if you file online.

However, if you’ve never filed your tax return online before you will have to register with HMRC before you can do so. You’ll receive a User ID as soon as you register for filing online, but will have to wait to fill in your tax return until you receive your Activation Code through the post. 

This normally takes seven working days to arrive, so it’s important to take this into account when planning when to complete your tax return.

In addition, once you’ve received your Activation Code, you’ll have to use it within 28 days. If you let it expire, you will need to apply for another Activation Code before you can begin filling in your tax return online.

Help with self-assessment tax returns

While TV adverts have sought to convince us that tax doesn’t have to be taxing, self-assessing can be a stressful experience. There is plenty of help on our website for anyone going through the process in our Tax returns and Tax for the self-employed advice guides.

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