Be an early bird

Pro­cras­ti­na­tion is the thief of time, the say­ing goes. It can also land you in hot wa­ter with the tax­man if you’re not care­ful

EDP Norfolk - - Finance - Luke Jack­son, head of per­sonal tax

“By sub­mit­ting your re­turn early, you can claim any re­funds you are owed early too”

NO­BODY en­joys sub­mit­ting their self-as­sess­ment tax re­turn; it’s sim­ply a ne­ces­sity, a ne­ces­sity that’s of­ten left to the last minute or for­got­ten en­tirely. The op­por­tu­nity to sub­mit a pa­per tax re­turn to HM Rev­enue and Cus­toms has al­ready passed and we are fast ap­proach­ing the dead­line for sub­mis­sion of dig­i­tal re­turns. In order to en­sure that you don’t in­cur any penal­ties, you must make the sub­mis­sion by Jan­uary 31, 2018.

While Jan­uary 2018 may seem a long way off, in re­al­ity it’s just around the cor­ner. If this year’s sum­mer has taught us any­thing, it’s that time moves quickly. One minute you’re sun­ning your­self on the beach, the next you’re shiv­er­ing, hot cho­co­late in hand and won­der­ing where the time went.

The all-too-com­mon mind­set of ‘that’s ages away’ has caught many a tax­payer out; don’t let your­self be­come one of them. Right now, this present moment, is the per­fect time to sub­mit your tax re­turn.

WHY SUB­MIT EARLY?

Per­haps the num­ber one rea­son to get your tax re­turn done early is the peace of mind you will in­evitably achieve by know­ing it’s done. Be­sides the ob­vi­ous, there are plenty of other rea­sons to file your tax re­turn early:

You’ll have am­ple time to gather in­for­ma­tion

Rather than hav­ing to rush around to gather re­ceipts and other nec­es­sary pa­per­work at the last minute, you’ll have plenty of time to pull to­gether all your fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion.

More time to bud­get

If, in the un­for­tu­nate cir­cum­stance your tax bill is higher than you ex­pected, then at least by sub­mit­ting early you’ll have time to bud­get be­fore pay­ing your bill.

Claim your tax re­fund early

By sub­mit­ting your re­turn early, you can claim any re­funds you are owed early too. You should re­ceive any re­funds owed very quickly as HMRC tend to be con­sid­er­ably less busy around this time of year.

WHAT FINES ARE THERE?

If you sub­mit your tax re­turn late, there is an im­me­di­ate £100 fine payable to HMRC. If you fail to sub­mit your tax re­turn af­ter three months, this be­comes a £10 a day fine on top of the £100, which grows to a max­i­mum of £900. If you still haven’t filed your re­turn af­ter six and 12 months fol­low­ing the dead­line you get an ad­di­tional £300 fine or 5% of your tax bill, whichever is higher. Yes, you can ap­peal the fine, but your ex­cuses must be valid and hold up to scru­tiny.

As you can see, HMRC offer lit­tle sym­pa­thy when it comes to late sub­mis­sions, so it re­ally is best to get it done early. I al­ways ad­vise sub­mit­ting your tax re­turn be­fore Christmas, be­cause once you’re in Jan­uary, it’s safe to say you’re cut­ting it fine. Have your­self a merry lit­tle Christmas and get your tax re­turn done be­fore the fes­tive pe­riod!

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