Online tax return deadline extended to 2 FebruaryStrike action delays tax return deadline

30 January 2012

Self-assessment taxpayers have received a wake-up call from HMRC

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has pushed back the deadline for completing your online tax returns to midnight on 2 February, following strike action on the original 31 January deadline. 

Returns submitted by 2 February will be treated as though they were submitted on 31 January, though if this will only be applicable for those who have applied and received their activation codes to complete their online tax returns.

Go further: Which? tax calculator - check your likely tax bill for the 2010-11 tax year

Automatic fine for missing online tax return deadline 

Last year, HMRC fined 1.5 million people for missing the tax return deadline - an 8% increase on 2009-10. The date for paper tax returns is 31 October, but those who make an online tax return get an extra three months, with a deadline of 2 February. 

Although you can submit a return online up to the last day, registering to make a return this way can be a lengthy process. You need to register online to get a User ID, but you also need an activation code which HMRC sends out by post. This can take up to a week to arrive.

HMRC director Stephen Banyard said: 'Missing the 31 January [now 2 February] deadline will mean that Self Assessment taxpayers will face penalties. And we don't want them to - we want the tax returns, not the penalties. We want people to file online and on-time, and avoid facing a completely avoidable penalty.' 

Self-assessment taxpayers      

Over 10 million people completed a self-assessment tax return in 2010-11. Typical self-assessment taxpayers include the self-employed, those with an annual income above £100,000 or investment income of over £10,000. 

If you are aged over 65 and get are-related allowance you may also have to complete a self-assessment tax return. The full paper version is six pages long, but there is a shorter version for pensioners and the self-employed with a turnover of under £30,000. 

Majority now use online tax return assessment

Completing an online tax return offers several advantages over the traditional paper form. In 2010-11 77% made their tax return this way, compared to 23% in 2005-6. 

Which? tax expert, Ian Robinson says: 'Filing online gets you a longer deadline and also ensures you receive an instantaneous acknowledgement from HMRC that they have received your figures. The HMRC website has useful notes and advice to make completing a return as easy as possible but anyone who hasn't registered yet needs to make arrangements immediately.'

More on this...

  • Which? tax calculator - check your likely tax bill for the 2010-11 tax year
  • Online tax returns - more information on the deadlines and details
  • Paper tax returns - how to fill out a paper tax return