Picture the scene...

February 1st (every year) and HMRC staff appear in every bar in the country laughing, giggling and downing shots.
At home, stressed sole traders and directors attempt for the 6th time to submit their tax return, only to find out they have a £100 penalty.
I (hope) that our fines aren't paying for their shots (they probably aren't) but, that's certainly how it feels!

We all know we should do it, we all put it off! In 2018 HMRC collected millions in penalties and interest, all from late filing of tax returns.

958,296 taxpayers missed the deadline (8.18 per cent).
HMRC thanked those who submitted and paid in time for the deadline, but mentioned those who are yet to file should act urgently to avoid further fines.

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    1. It takes a long time to register
        It usually takes up to 2 weeks to receive a taxpayer reference, but much longer if you wait until January!
        First you have to request a Unique Taxpayer Reference, then register for online services, then request an authorisation code. HMRC usually get the documents to you within 2 weeks, but come December/January you're at the mercy of Royal Mail...
    2. It gives your time to save for your tax payment
      • Submitting your return is easy... Your tax payment is also due by January 31st!
        Crying as you enter the security code of your debit card is by far the hardest part!
    3. It might actually be good news? Make for nice a Christmas?
      • Talk to your accountant (hopefully us), you might be receiving a tax refund.
        Even if you aren't, it would give you time to save for the payment!
    4. It can take a lot of time to find everything you need
      • P45's, P60's, receipts, invoices, bank statements etc... The list is endless (or so it seems if you're rushing at the last minute)...
    5. Penalties. Need we say more?
      • I don't want to be buying a round of shots for HMRC employees, do you? (before I get taken to court, this is said in jest - I hope)...
        You incur an automatic £100 fine if you miss the January 31st deadline. Why risk it?

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