HMRC has extended the online Self Assessment tax return deadline for the 2019/20 tax year to midnight 28 February 2021.
The deadline for filing your online Self Assessment tax return has been extended by a month as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
That means the estimated three million people yet to file their 19/20 tax return now have until midnight on 28 February 2021 to sort it.
However, the extension only applies to filing returns: you must still pay your tax bill by 31 January as usual.
Explaining the extension, Jim Harra, HMRC’s chief executive, said: “We recognise the immense pressure that many people are facing in these unprecedented times and it has become increasingly clear that some people will not be able to file their return by 31 January.
“Not charging late filing penalties for late online tax returns submitted in February will give them the breathing space they need to complete and file their returns, without worrying about receiving a penalty.
“We can reasonably assume most of these people will have a valid reason for filing late, caused by the pandemic.”
So, how do you go about filing your online tax return? Here are our top tips to make beating the deadline as painless as possible.
Do you have a Gateway account?
Ideally, you'll already have registered to use HMRC’s online tax return service by now and are ready to start filling in forms.
It can take up to 18 days to sign up for through the Government Gateway PIN verification system, but you can get around this by registering instead for the new Gov.UK Verify system, which takes 15 minutes to set up.
Learn more about the Verify system on this Government web page.
Once you are set up, it’s time to tackle that dreaded return you’ve been putting off. Here are some top tips to help make the process as painless as possible. But first, take a look at what documents you’ll need to fill out your Self Assessment form.
If you're looking to make a payment on account instead, here's all you need to know.
1. Don't have all your figures? Use (realistic) estimates
If you do not have exact figures, put in estimates. You must, however, make the estimates as accurate as possible, and clarify on the form that the figures are estimates and not exact.
You will still need to supply exact figures later, but at least estimates will do for now.
2. Look for the best sources of information
Focus on the most relevant information. If you don't have a P60 form from your employer, your March payslip will have much of the same information.
Earlier payslips can be ignored. Your bank statements can also tell you much of what you need to know – how much you paid in pension contributions, charitable donations and so on.
3. Remember interest payments
Don't forget to declare the interest you received from your bank.
Your March statement will often show how much interest you received over the year, so that's the most important one to look at.
4. And don't forget dividends
Similarly, you must declare the dividends you received from shares or similar investments.
This rule applies whether you received the dividends as cash or they were reinvested.
If you don't have a personalised dividend certificate, the fund manager or company will usually list the dividend paid per share on its website.
You can multiply that by the current number of shares you own to work out the dividend you received.
5. Ask questions now
Finally, remember that the internet and the phone are your friends. If you can't find the relevant paper statements, you may be able to get the info you need over the phone or online.
Remember that you will most likely face an automatic £100 fine if you miss the deadline without a valid excuse.
There are plenty of help sheets on the Self Assessment section of the Gov.uk website, or you can call the helpline on 0300 200 3310.
You'll need your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number to hand when calling.
You could also try getting in touch on Twitter anytime between 8am and 10pm. However, please make sure you don't post any personal details as criminals have been known to use these.
6. Watch out for scams!
As a final point, be extremely careful who you hand your details over. HMRC will occasionally contact you by email or even text (depending on which details you've given them), for example, to remind you to fill out your tax form.
However, the taxman will never contact you via email or phone/text to tell you about a refund. This will always be done by post. Have a read of our guide to spotting tax scams in order to stay one step ahead of the crooks.
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