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Filling in your online tax return

26 January 2015

This coming Saturday, January 31st, is the deadline for completing your online self-assessment tax return and paying any tax owed for the 2013–14 financial year.

It is of course an important date for anyone who runs their own business, as most business owners must declare their income to HMRC in order to be taxed correctly. This year, though, is of particular importance to landlords, who have recently been in HMRC’s cross-hairs for special investigation.

The ‘Let Property Campaign’ is a series of special measures employed by HMRC to target UK landlords who owe tax on their rental income. This year will mark the end of the 18-month ‘landlord amnesty’, during which landlords can come forward without incurring the full penalties for underpaying tax1.

Nevertheless, everyone faces a penalty for late payments or delayed returns:

  • Online tax returns: A £100 fine for returns submitted after midnight on January 31st and before midnight on April 31st; larger fines for returns submitted after this date.
  • Paper tax returns: A £100 fine for returns submitted between now and midnight January 31st; larger fines for returns submitted after this date.
  • Full tax payments: larger fines for payments made after midnight on January 31st.
  • Who needs to fill in a self-assessment tax return?

    You will need to complete your own tax return if:
  • You are a self-employed sole trader;
  • You are a partner of a business;
  • You are a company director of a for-profit organisation, or a not-for-profit organisation from which you receive no pay or benefits

If you are unsure whether you need to fill in a self-assessment tax return, use this tool on the government website to check.

Filling in your online tax return

The deadline for filling in your paper tax return for the 2013–14 financial year (October 31st 2014) has passed. If you wish to avoid paying a late fee, you should use HMRC’s online tax return service.

You should already have registered for self-assessment, in which case you will have a user ID and password that will enable you to access your online account.

If you have not already registered for self-assessment, you will need to do so. You can register using an SA1 form. The deadline for registering was October 5th 2014 – if you have not yet registered, you may have to pay a penalty.

Once you have registered, HMRC will provide you with a unique tax reference (UTR), which you can use along with your national insurance number to sign up for the online service. You will be prompted to create a password; once you have done this, you will be given a unique user ID which you can use to access the service.

You will also need an activation code, which HMRC will send to you by post. After using this code to activate your account, you can log in and fill out your online tax return. It may take up to 10 days for your code to arrive, meaning you will likely miss the January deadline. 

Contact HMRC for assistance with your online tax return.

Using GOV.UK Verify

If you are forced to wait for new or missing information and are worried that you may miss the deadline, you can use the GOV.UK Verify service that is currently being trialled across a handful of government departments, including HMRC. Instead of using a single government database, the service uses certified companies to verify your identity.

Be aware that this service is still in its trial stage, and is not equipped to handle large volumes of traffic. If you have registered for self-assessment and have all of the required details to hand, it might be best to use the traditional service.

Find out more about GOV.UK Verify.

Written by Ben Gosling for Commercial Trust Limited.


1. Caldwell, K. “Pay your tax or face the consequences, minister tells buy-to-let investors”. The Telegraph. 19 Sep 2013.