Self assessment filing ahead of 31 January deadline reaches a new high

The number of self assessment (SA) tax returns filed by the 31 January 2018 deadline for 2017 returns has once again reached a new high. 10.7 million taxpayers submitted their return on time and 9.9 million of these were filed online. For those interested in statistics, this means that more than 92.5% of total returns were completed online. And of course it does also mean that over half a million tax returns remain unfiled.

‘Angela MacDonald, Director General for Customer Services, thanked customers for meeting the deadline and said:

It’s really fantastic to see that each year, more and more self assessment customers are getting ahead of the game and submitting their tax return before the 31 January deadline. But we’re not complacent, we want the number missing the deadline to be zero, and we’ll continue to adapt the process to make it easier and simpler for all our customers until every return is in on time and without avoidable errors.

If you’re one of the small number that missed the deadline, please submit your return now to avoid further penalties. We really don’t want penalties, we just want tax returns.’

ICAEW supports the ongoing drive to digitalise tax and tax returns. We note that the success of e-filing for SA has been achieved without mandation. There is instead an incentive in the form of a three month longer deadline for filing online, so carrot and not stick. In our view, Making Tax Digital (MTD) should be adopting the same approach and should be non mandatory until it has been shown to work.

Unfortunately, this year the SA system has been hampered by complexity as the underlying tax rules for the interaction of the personal allowance with the new exemptions for interest and dividends has created systems problems. We note that HMRC issued further exclusions shortly before the deadline. If taxpayers can’t rely on HMRC systems to calculate their tax correctly – and of course this affects commercial software too since that relies on HMRC’s system – we wonder whether HMRC’s underlying systems can be made ready to cope with MTD from 2019?

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  • Has anyone been successful in amending an SA return using HMRC software ie deleting the transfer of personal allowance when it is no longer suitable? The "delete" button referred to in the amendment notes was not there!  Phone calls to HMRC resulted in the query being transferred to Technical for a call back which never materialised. Give in or what!! Fortunately the tax payable by either spouse was the same in total but tax was not paid by the correct person. Hope this is never deemed to be grounds for divorce. I don't think my PII covers it! Mystified Torquay 

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