The deadline for submitting your online Self Assessment tax return, paying any tax owed and taking care of your first payment on account for the year, is today (31 January 2017). If you do not file your tax return before midnight you can expect to receive a fine.

What is the fine for missing the self assessment deadline?

If you are required to file a tax return but miss the deadline you will receive an automatic £100 fine from HMRC. The late filing penalty for failing to meet the deadline is imposed regardless of whether you owe tax or not, so even if your business activities have not resulted in a profit, you must still meet complete self assessment.

Failure to do so within 3 months (end of April) could result in a £10 a day fine for 90 days, bringing the penalty to £900. Additional penalties are imposed after 6 and 12 month periods (which may be based on the amount of tax owed). Additionally, you should expect to be charged interest on any unpaid tax.

Can I escape the HMRC fine?

HMRC says it will not impose the late filing penalty for people who have a “reasonable excuse”. Beware that HMRC has heard it all before though, and the final decision is at their own discretion. Fines will typically be waived / suspended if HMRC’s online services pages have not been working though. However HMRC will not cancel penalties for those who found the Self Assessment online system difficult to use or did not receive the automated official reminder. To appeal against a fine from HMRC, you’ll need to complete an SA370 form.

What should you do next?

If you have your login details for Self Assessment online, act now. Gather all your financial information for the year such as: income, expenses, bank interest, any P60s, pension contributions etc. If you are not yet registered to complete Self Assessment online you will need to register with HMRC and receive an authentication code via post. You can register to file your Self Assessment tax return online by visiting HMRC’s registration page. If this sounds too difficult or you don’t have the time, speak to a professional accountant.

Final words of wisdom..

Self Assessment can be complicated and time consuming – avoid making these Three Common Mistakes. Filing an accurate return boils down to keeping good records, having your self assessment username and password in a safe place and being aware of the deadline well in advance. Remember that filing your tax return early means your tax bill won’t come as a nasty shock – so give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush it. Good luck!

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