Tax & admin · 28 October 2016

Business owners risk fines for missing 31 October tax return deadline

By April 2018 the physical self-assessment tax return will be obsolete

Business owners and freelancers submitting a paper self-assessment tax return this year must do so by 31 October or face a £100 fine.

The penalty will be met by a series of further charges should business owners fail to submit the self-assessment forms in the three months that follow 31 October, HMRC has warned.

After the three-month cut-off, a penalty of £10 per day is charged. This charge will escalate until it reaches a £900 limit.

The deadline for those completing a paper tax return is preceded by a Sunday – a day when HMRC is unable to provide any assistance or contact.

By April 2018, the physical self-assessment tax return will be obsolete as the government imposes the complete switch to digital tax.

The government has offered a stronger incentive to those working for themselves to make the switch to digital tax returns by holding an extended deadline of 31 January 2017 for this year’s submissions.

In 2015, 89 per cent of all tax returns were submitted to HMRC online. However, research has shown that the government’s Making Tax Digital initiative remains a mystery for almost half of all micro business owners and sole traders.

A recent survey, conducted by cloud accounting firm FreeAgent, found that 43 per cent of small company owners “had no idea” what Maxing Tax Digital was.

Commenting on the study, FreeAgent CEO Ed Molyneux urged the government to provide “more clarity” on the shift to digital tax returns, “so that micro business owners feel fully informed and more positive about the benefits that digital tax can provide for them”.

In a statement, Molyneux added that the details of online tax submissions were not fully understood by the small business community.

“Contrary to some beliefs, businesses will not need to file a tax return every three months in future. Instead, businesses will need to send summary data to HMRC about their business each quarter, or more often if the business prefers,” he said.

The government offers assistance to small business owners in working out the details of the self-assessment tax return on GOV.UK.

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

Tax & admin