Don’t be afraid of… TAX Returns!!

Halloween is just days away, so what are you most scared of? Ghosts, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night? Or could it be that you’re more afraid of submitting your paper tax return!!


If you are submitting a paper tax return to HMRC for 2016/17 you should complete it and submit it to HMRC by 31 October 2017. And if you still have an outstanding return for 2015/16 which you wish to submit on paper, again you must do so before 31 October in order to avoid triggering further late filing penalties for the return being 12 months late.


What if I miss the deadline?

If you intend to submit a paper return for 2016/17 and do not do so by 31 October 2017 you still have the option of submitting an electronic return by 31 January 2018 to avoid late filing penalties. However, if a tax return for 2015/16 is submitted after 31 October 2017 in paper form rather than electronically then the maximum automatic late filing penalties will eventually be charged.


Can I appeal against the penalties?

You cannot usually make an appeal until after you have submitted your outstanding tax return so do not put off submitting! You may have missed the tax return deadline due to an unforeseeable event. This would be classed as ‘reasonable excuse’ and grounds to appeal a penalty charge. If the appeal is successful then the penalties will be cancelled.


If you have not submitted your tax return because you are unable or cannot afford to pay any tax due, then be aware that HMRC regard submitting a return and paying the tax due as two separate and distinct obligations. Penalties will continue to build up if you do not submit the return and you will not be able to arrange a debt payment plan with HMRC while the return is outstanding.


What is a ‘reasonable excuse’?

HMRC’s guidance states that a reasonable excuse is ‘something unexpected or outside your control that stopped you meeting your tax obligation’ and gives a few examples of situations that they would accept constitute a reasonable excuse, such as:

  • death of your partner shortly before the tax return or payment deadline
  • an unexpected stay in a hospital
  • computer or software failure just before or while preparing an online return.

Examples of reasonable excuse claims they will normally reject are given as follows:

  • reliance on someone else to send your return and they did not
  • cheque bounced or payment failed due to lack of funds
  • difficulties using the HMRC online system

What happens if my appeal is rejected?

If HMRC rejects your appeal you can request a review of their decision. The review will be carried out by another team from HMRC who have not been involved in making the original decision. If you lose a statutory review, they will provide you with details about how you can make a further appeal to the independent tax tribunal.


Will HMRC ever cancel the return?

Sometimes tax returns are issued by HMRC when the criteria for self-assessment are no longer met by the taxpayer. If HMRC has sent you a self-assessment tax return to complete but you do not think you need to submit one, you can contact HMRC to see if the tax return can be cancelled. If HMRC agrees, any associated penalties will automatically be withdrawn.


If you are still feeling a little “spooked” by your tax return get in touch with us here at DNA Accountants, we’re not afraid of taxes!!!

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