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Self-assessment tax return

Paper tax returns

By Ian Robinson

Article 5 of 10

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Paper tax returns

If you're completing paper tax return, this guide will help you get prepared for submission

It's called self-assessment because you fill it in yourself and send it back to HMRC for your tax liability to be calculated.

You have to complete a paper tax return by 31 October every year. If you miss this deadline, then you can avoid a fine by submitting an online tax return by 31 January instead. 

Use the Which? online tax calculator : our easy-to-use and jargon-free tax calculator offers personalised tax tips, and you can submit the form directly to HMRC.

Sections of the main tax return (SA100)

  • The first page of your return includes a reminder of the submission deadlines for both the paper and online returns.
  • You are then asked to enter your personal details, including date of birth and telephone number.
  • The next section is a summary of your types of income for the year. You don’t need to fill in amounts on this page – you only need to tick the box for types of income that fit your circumstances. 
  • If you tick a box, check that there is a section on your return for this type of income. If there isn’t, you may have to complete supplementary pages, which are available upon request from HMRC.
  • The next sections of the tax return are for income, including savings and investment income, plus income from benefits, pensions and other miscellaneous sources.
  • The following page covers the most common forms of tax relief that may be available to you. These include married couples' allowance, Gift Aid and payments into registered pension schemes.

The final pages of the paper tax return are more administrative in nature. These sections deal with:

  • any tax already repaid to you by HMRC or Jobcentre Plus
  • the bank account into which any further repayments should be made by HMRC
  • how you would like to pay any tax owing (eg through PAYE)
  • contact details for your tax adviser (if you have one)
  • any other information
  • signing the tax return.

Paper tax return – supplementary pages

Some people are sent supplementary pages automatically, but you may need to request these from HMRC in order to make a full return. You can do this by telephoning 0845 900 0404, or you can download the pages you need from the HMRC website.

Supplementary pages include:

  • Additional information (SA101)
  • Employment (E1/ E2)
  • Self-employment (SES1/ SES 2 or SEF1 to SEF6)
  • Partnership (SP1/SP2 or FP1 to FP4)
  • UK Property (UKP1/ UKP2)
  • Foreign (F1-F6)
  • Trusts etc (T1/T2)
  • Capital Gains (GC1/CG2)
  • Non-resident (NR1/NR2)
  • Minister of Religion (MoR1/MoR2)
  • Lloyd’s underwriters (LU1 to LU4).

Help filling in your paper tax return

The tax-return guidance notes (SA150) issued by HMRC consist of 28 pages of notes. HMRC also issues 32 pages of additional information notes (SA101 Notes), which help people with complex tax affairs to declare income from other sources - for example life insurance gains, stock dividends, plus income from securities and share schemes. 

They also cover tax relief, age-related married couples' allowance, tax losses, pension schemes and recognised tax-avoidance schemes.

A number of working sheets are also included, which allow you to show how the taxable amounts you enter on the main return have been calculated. If you’re a paper filer and want to calculate your own tax, you need to ask for the tax calculation summary pages, as these won’t automatically be supplied. These pages also allow you to make a claim to reduce your payments on account (alternatively use form SA303).

Short tax returns

Some employees, pensioners and self-employed people with turnover under £73,000 are sent a four-page simplified short tax return (SA200). You can’t ‘self-select’ for this – HMRC decides who gets it.  You also can’t fill in the short return online, though you can choose to complete the full online return instead.

If your circumstances have changed since last year or you think you should fill out the full tax return, it is up to you to decide if you are still eligible to fill in the short return. If in doubt, contact HMRC.

Paper tax return checklist

  • Allow plenty of time: Don’t leave filing your tax return to the last minute. You might need extra forms or help to complete particular sections. As long as you get your paper return in by the 31 October deadline, HMRC will let you know how much tax you need to pay before the payment date of 31 January.
  • Get everything together: Before you start filling in your return, gather your important documents together. If you’re an employee, this will include your P60 and P11D, your PAYE notice of coding and your P45 if you’ve changed job during the year. 
  • Gather details of assets you've sold. You’ll also need to gather details of any assets you’ve sold in the year that may be liable for capital gains tax, as well as details of bank and building society interest, dividends and other income. You don't need to declare tax-free interest from Isas, but you should gather details of Gift Aid donations made, as well as pension contributions made in the year.
  • Keep proof: Make a copy of your completed tax return and keep it, and proof of posting, on file. Keep all paperwork for at least 22 months from the end of the tax year if you are employed or a pensioner, or five years and 10 months if you’re self-employed or letting property.
  • Paying small amounts of tax: If you’re a paper filer and the tax you owe is less than £2,000, HMRC will automatically collect the tax through PAYE in the following tax year (if you have a PAYE tax code). If you don’t want this to happen, you’ll need to tick the opt-out box on the tax return.
  • Last updated: April 2017
  • Updated by: Gareth Shaw

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