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Self-Assessment tax return: less fuss if you file early

We know that just the words ‘self-assessment tax return’ uttered in succession can induce feelings of trepidation in those required to file one. This often leads to a reluctance to tackle the task at hand, head-on.

Though the 31st January deadline remains a constant in the tax calendar, procrastination still sees thousands of taxpayers filing their return at the last minute, year in and year out.

As the festive period comes and goes, they watch the days in January tick past until their time is almost up and they eventually conclude that they can’t avoid the inevitable any longer.

If this sounds familiar, revel only briefly in the fact that you are not alone. In January 2018, 2.6 million people had still not filed their return by the 29th January. Over 6% of all returns due were filed in the final 24-hour window – yet, some 745,588 people still missed the deadline completely.

The truth of the matter is, it’s far better to file early than to risk finding yourself in tax-related trouble.

It’s all in the timing…

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
― William Penn

Preparation and submission of your self-assessment tax return takes time; whether it’s registering for self-assessment (if it’s your first time), sourcing and assembling all the necessary documentation or prospective tax planning.

Be aware of how much of it you have at your disposal and, more importantly, use it wisely. Doing so will undoubtedly give rise to a better outcome than if you find yourself still agonising over the details fifteen minutes before the deadline.

Procrastination = penalties

“You may delay, but time will not.”
― Benjamin Franklin

No matter how long you spend procrastinating, the self-assessment tax return deadline will still arrive at midnight on 31st January 2019, as it supposed to. If, by this time, you have not filed your return, you will unfortunately incur penalties.

The initial penalty for failing to meet the 31st January deadline is £100. After this point, the penalties increase steadily depending on the amount of time that has passed since the deadline.

If HMRC believe you are deliberately neglecting your responsibilities, you may be liable for a fine amounting to 100% of the tax owed.

It’s less fuss if you file early…

“Better three hours too soon than one minute too late.”
― William Shakespeare

Take Shakespeare’s advice and get the ball rolling sooner rather than later. Taking your time, whilst time is on your side, and filing ahead of the deadline can eliminate the frantic fussing and fretting you might otherwise experience if you leave it too late.

Aside from the obvious advantages of being proactive and filing ahead of the deadline, such as avoiding penalties, improved tax planning, time to prepare thoroughly and the ability to budget, it can also give you peace of mind. This can be particularly beneficial during the festive period which, for some businesses, can be their busiest time.

You can avoid panic, penalties and poor guidance by entrusting George Hay with your annual self-assessment tax return. Our team of trusted tax advisers will assist you with fulfilling your obligations, whilst saving you time and money, helping you to grow your business and eliminating worry in the process. Contact us today to discuss your circumstances in more detail with one of our experts.

If you often find yourself dragging your feet when it comes to your self-assessment tax return, read our latest ‘What happens if…’ feature:

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