Do I have to complete a paper tax return?
You may need to complete a tax return if HMRC sends you a tax return to complete, or if your circumstances change that mean you need to submit one. However, you can choose whether you want to submit your tax return online, or using the paper tax return option.
This guide will talk you through the different sections of the main tax return, supplementary pages, how to find help filling out the tax return, and a handy paper tax return checklist.
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 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 marriage allowance, Gift Aid and payments into registered pension schemes.
The final pages of the paper tax return are more administrative. 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 them 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)
These are for less common types of income, deductions and tax reliefs, such as gilt-edged securities, life insurance gains and married couple’s allowance.
Necessary if you:
- work for an employer who deducts tax through PAYE;
- received income as a company director;
- hold an office such as chairperson or treasurer and receive income;
- work for one person through another company or partnership;
- received foreign income from a job, directorship or office.
You need to fill in a separate ‘Employment’ page for each job.
Self-employment (SES1/SES2 or SEF1 to SEF6)
You need this supplement if you’re self-employed. Those with a turnover of less than £85,000 with no complications can fill out the short form; otherwise, you need the full form.
Partnership (SP1/SP2 or FP1 to FP4)
Suitable for those in a business partnership – see HMRC’s notes to gauge whether you need the short or full form, and which boxes you need to fill in or leave out.
UK property (UKP1/UKP2)
You’ll need to fill these out if you receive:
- rental income and other receipts from UK land or property;
- income from letting furnished rooms in your own home;
- income from Furnished Holiday Lettings in the UK or European Economic Area;
- premiums from leasing UK land;
- inducements to take an interest in letting a property.
Foreign (F1 to F6)
These pages cover common types of foreign income, including interest from overseas savings; dividends from foreign companies; income from overseas pensions and property. Use the ‘Foreign’ pages to claim Foreign Tax Credit Relief or Special Withholding Tax.
Trusts etc (T1/T2)
Suitable if you were a beneficiary and received, or were entitled to, income from a trust or settlement (don’t include bare trusts); were a settlor and have put money or assets into a trust or settlement; received income from the estate of a person who has died.
Capital gains (CG1/CG2)
HMRC suggest getting professional advice in more complex cases, but the basic rules are to fill out these forms if:
- you sold or disposed of chargeable assets worth more than £46,800;
- your chargeable gains before losses were more than £11,700;
- you have gains in an earlier year taxable in this period;
- you want to claim an allowable capital loss or make a capital gains claim or election for the year;
- you were not living in the UK and are claiming to pay tax on your foreign gains on the remittance basis;
- your chargeable on the remittance basis and have remitted foreign chargeable gains of an earlier year;
- you disposed of the whole or part of an interest in a UK residential property – either when you were a non-UK resident, or you were a UK resident and the disposal was in the overseas part of a split year.
Find out more: Capital gains tax allowances and rates
Minister of Religion (MoR1/MoR2)
These pages are for anyone who is a minister of religion of any faith, religion or denomination, or an employee acting as a minister of religion.
Lloyd's underwriters (LU1 to LU4)
Only suitable if you were trading as an underwriting member of Lloyd’s (or a Name) and received a form CTA 1 and CTA 2 from Lloyd’s. Only include income from your personal funds held at Lloyd’s.
Paper tax return checklist
Before you start filling out your tax return, it's a good idea to make sure you have everything you need to hand first. Consult this checklist first, and completing your return should be a breeze.
How to get 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 £85,000 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.
How to avoid a late fee
If you miss the paper tax return deadline of 31 October - or think you're going to miss it - do not send the forms off late, or you'll incur a penalty fine.
Instead, you can complete your return online using the unique taxpayer reference (UTR) number that HMRC gives you when you register.
By filing online, you'll have until the later online deadline of 31 January of the following year.
You cannot submit a paper return late and also complete an online tax return, thinking it will cancel out the late paper return - HMRC will fine you according to the tax return that's submitted first. We explain possible fines in our guide to late tax returns.
Submit your 2018-19 tax return with Which?
If you miss the paper tax return deadline, you still have three months to file online.
You can submit your tax return direct to HRMC with the jargon-free Which? tax calculator. Tot up your tax bill and get tips on where to save with Which?.