Freelancers yet to file a tax return get 11th hour tips

Accountants still aren't giving up on freelancers and their other self-employed clients even if they are sat staring at their uncompleted tax return ahead of today's deadline.

So last night and this morning, tips were still being issued to sole traders who ignored 'don't leave it the 11th hour' advice, but want advice on what to do now that they have.

"If you still can’t pay what you owe by 31st January, then please then contact HMRC as soon as possible to tell them that you can’t pay," says the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group.

'Not as bad as you think'

The group added: "Things might not be as bad as you think, particularly if you speak to them before a tax bill becomes overdue and can arrange to pay in instalments, for example."

Tax experts at the MHH Partnership agree, saying freelancers who have cash problems and are unable to clear tax due, can ring HMRC to try to get extended terms.

To that end, the best two phone numbers for HMRC are its Business Payment Support Service, 0300 200 3835, or its Self-Assessment Payment Helpline, 0300 200 3822.

'Penalties'

Failing that, freelancers who cannot pay their bill or who are stuck on the particular tax treatment of an expense should still submit the return no later than 11.59pm tonight.

"If you do not, then you will face late filing penalties in addition to any issues around late payment of taxes," said the LITRG.

The group also pointed out that, if taxpayers have received a notice to file a return then one should likely be completed.

'Be sure to estimate'

However, in the instance that the recipient believes that they do not need to submit a return, the advice, again, is to phone HMRC -- albeit before the deadline and ask them to cancel it.

For those self-assessors who miss tonight's cut-off, and subsequently receive a letter or bill threatening action, the best response is to ring the HMRC office which sent the letter, MHH recommends.

"Before you call be sure to estimate how much you can pay on account," the firm said in a statement, adding:

"And you will normally need to clear any balance before any future payments on account become due (ordinarily this would be before 31 July 2019 when the second payment on account for 2018-19 falls due)."

'Just the start'

Meanwhile, as well as a potential complication this year owing to HMRC suffering a glitch with its Payment on Account figures, the ICAEW has identified other issues taxpayers need to be aware of.

For example, it is no longer possible (since December 2017) to make a payment through the post office, and individuals can no longer pay their tax using a personal credit card, the accounting body said.

"This may mean planning another way to pay, ahead of the deadline," the ICAEW said. "[And remember] the £100 fixed penalty for not completing a tax return by 31 January is just the start [of the penalty regime]".

Speaking earlier this week, HMRC said that more than 3.5 million customers had still not yet completed their 2017/18 tax returns and paid the tax owed, implying that last year's compliance rate of more than 90% might not be achieved this year.

 

31st January 2019

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