Tax return focus shifts online Self-assessment taxpayers have until January 31

01 November 2015

girl with computer

Taxpayers who missed the October 31 paper tax return deadline can escape a £100 fine from HMRC by going online. 

The deadline for online tax returns is three months later - on January 31 2016.

Online tax return surge

The move from paper to online tax returns continues to grow. Last year, 85.5% of the 10m tax returns received by HMRC were online - far outweighing traditional paper returns.

The shift to digital is hardly surprising when you consider the advantages this offers:

  • Later deadline for submissions - January 31 2016 rather than October 31 2015
  • Last-minute submissions accepted 
  • Personalised tax form with relevant areas you select
  • Immediate acknowledgement from HMRC as soon as your return is submitted

Useful tool: The Which? Tax calculator is a free-to-use tool which allows you to check your likely tax bill for 2014-15 before submitting figures to HMRC. It comes with extensive help notes, which ensure you claim for full allowances and tax reliefs. 

Avoid a £100 fine by submitting an online tax return

Self-assessment taxpayers can choose how they submit their return. If you originally opted for a paper return but realised you'll miss the deadline, it's important not to submit a paper form after October 31. Doing so will result in an automatic £100 fine.

Instead, taxpayers who miss the October 31 deadline should switch to sending an online return.

Registering to submit your tax return online

Submitting your tax return online is straightforward. If you haven't done it before, you'll need to register first. Here are the steps you'll need to take;

  • Visit the HMRC login page
  • Click on the ‘Register’ button under the 'New user’ heading. 
  • Click 'sign up for HMRC online services'
  • Follow the steps to set up a user ID and password 
  • Wait until you receive an activation code by post 

The code can take up to seven days to arrive, so make sure you register well in advance.

Once you have received an activation code, you must activate your online HRMC account within 28 days of the date shown on the letter sent to you, otherwise the code will expire and you'll need to request another.

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