My Dog Ate my Tax Return…

Lisa EntwistleBusiness, Business Articles

If you had any other income in the tax year to 5 April 2020 aside from pensions of PAYE (where taxes are deducted automatically by an employer) then it is highly likely that you will need to complete a self assessment tax return and file in online by 31 January 2021.

By this date, HMRC expect not only to receive your tax return but also payment in full of any tax due. Whilst that deadline may seem like a lifetime away right now, don’t forget there’s the small matter of the festive frivolities to contend with between now and then- on which note, 2019 was a record-breaking year for taxpayers filling their self assessments on Christmas Day itself, with over 3,000 successful submissions (248 of which were actaully filed before 8am, whilst the rest of us were only just ripping off wrapping paper and poring our breakfast Bucks Fizz!)

So to avoid feverishly gathering paperwork over the festive period in a bid to avoid the automatic £100 late filling penalty, our advice is always to get your tax return in as early as possible, the advantage being that you will then know the exact amount of tax you need to pay- and if paying that sum might cause you any financial hardship, especially in the current COVID-clouded climate, then you still have time to consider options.

As part of the UK Government’s Winter Economy Plan, the Chancellor advised that self assessment taxpayers may defer tax due on 31 January 2021 for up to 12 months via HMRC’s Time to Pay scheme, meaning you can pay tax due in smaller instalments to reduce the impact on your day-to-day cashflow.

But whilst deferring payment is an option, delaying filling the return itself by 31 January 2021 is not, and when it comes to excuses on that front, HMRC have pretty much heard it all- from late filling “because my mother-in-law is a witch and put a curse on me” or “I’m too short to reach the post box” to the taxpayer who tried to claim pet food for his guard dog- a Shih Tzu (no, I kid you not)- as a tax-deductible expense.

So unless you want to feature prominently in HMRC’s classic annual Top 10 Worst Late Filling Excuses (which let’s face it, is hardly a BAFTA nomination) then it’s time to start thinking about tackling that tax return paperwork pile- and we’re here for any advice you need in that regard.

Lisa Entwistle is a partner at Evans Entwistle Chartered Management Accountants & Tax Advisors. For more information, contact 029 2071 3800 or go to