29 October 2013

Deadline looms for paper tax returns

Paper self-assessment tax returns could save you time compared to the online version, but the deadline is looming - submit yours by Thursday 31 October.

Time is running out for business owners and entrepreneurs who have chosen to complete a paper version of their tax return.

Although filing self-assessment tax returns online is now very popular, many people choose to fill out paper versions of the forms. One of the main reasons for this is that with paper returns, HMRC will calculate the amount of tax you need to pay. If this is less than £2,000, the amount can be collected through your tax code so there isn’t a lump sum to pay straight away, like there is with the online method.

Businesses with a turnover of less than £70,000 also only need to fill in a shorter form if they choose the paper method, which is particularly useful for start-ups with limited time and resources. Every business owner who submits their self assessment tax return online has to fill in the full form, which asks for details of savings, investments and pensions.

With a deadline of midnight on Thursday, 31 October, there is now very little time left to finish the paper return and get it posted to HMRC. Missing the deadline could lead to a fine of £100 or more.

Tips on completing your tax return

Set aside some office time to concentrate on your tax return and follow our tips for getting your form finished on time:

  1. Remember you can use estimates
    If you can’t find the exact figures you need for your tax return, don’t panic. You can submit estimated figures so long as they are as accurate as possible and you make it clear they are estimates.
  2. Refer to your bank statements
    Use your bank statements as they will contain a lot of the necessary information about income and expenditure. If you have misplaced them, call your bank or log on to your online banking. It is worth keeping your financial records in a single, secure place, so you have them all to hand when you need them.
  3. Declare interest received from your bank
    Even if it is only a small amount, you should still declare it on your form. If you’re not sure what the figure is, check your statements or call your bank and ask them.
  4.  Photocopy everything before you send it
    Before you put your paper tax return into the post, make sure you have taken a copy, just in case it gets lost. It is also a good idea to ask for proof of postage. HMRC will not let you know when they receive your return, but they will tell you when your form has been processed.
  5.  If in doubt, call the helpline
    If you have any questions at all, call the Self Assessment Helpline on 0845 900 0444, but remember it is only open until 8pm and phone lines will be busy. Make sure you know your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) as you will be asked for it when you call.