Tax & admin · 30 January 2019

Self-employed reveal 5 disturbing things they’d rather do than their tax return

Is a night in a haunted house more desirable than completing your tax return?

Just one day before the self-assessment window slams shut, self-employed Brits have revealed they’d rather do almost anything than file their tax return.

According to a survey of over 1,000 self-employed workers across the UK, undertaken by accounting software provider Intuit QuickBooks, half fear they haven’t filed their tax return correctly, while 40% find the whole process stressful.

With the self-assessment deadline for the 2017/18 tax year landing midnight tomorrow (Thursday 31 January), micro business owners and sole traders revealed the frankly disturbing things they’d rather do than tackle their tax return.

  • 1 in 5 people (2.4 million) said they would rather give a speech to 100 strangers
  • 1 in 5 people (2.3 million) would rather spend a night in a haunted house
  • 1 in 5 people (2.2 million) said they’d rather hold a tarantula for a minute
  • 1 in 7 people (1.7 million) would rather get trapped in a lift
  • 1 in 8 people (1.4 million) said they would rather jump out of a plane

Commenting on the findings, Shaun Shirazian, head of product, Europe at QuickBooks, said: “The self-employed have more than enough to worry about between keeping on top of their cash flow, drumming up new customers and balancing their work and private lives. Self-assessment shouldn’t be another stress to add to the list.”

The research revealed also that as many as 110,000 of the self-employed workforce are planning to submit their tax return to HMRC after the 31 January deadline. If you’re part of the 1% take a look at the government’s official late-submission penalties.

Penalties for late tax returns

Anybody missing the deadline will automatically receive a £100 fine. Crucially, even if no tax is owed, failure to submit a tax return will still result in a penalty.

  • A fixed £100 fine for all submissions after deadline
  • After three months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum £900
  • After six months, a further penalty of five per cent of the tax due, or £300 (whichever is greater)
  • After 12 months, another five per cent or £300 charge (whichever is greater)
  • Additional penalties for paying late of five per cent of the tax unpaid at 30 days, six months and 12 months



Five last-minute tax tips to beat the self-assessment deadline

Here are five top tips for completing your self-assessment in the final or days before the deadline passes.


Who needs to file a tax return?

UK residents need to file a self-assessment to HMRC if they:

  • Earned more than £2,500 from renting out property
  • Or their partner received Child Benefit and either of them had an annual income of more than £50,000
  • Received more than £2,500 in other untaxed income, for example from tips or commission
  • Are self-employed sole traders
  • Are employees claiming expenses in excess of £2,500
  • Have an annual income over £100,000
  • Earned income from abroad that they need to pay tax on

Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest from Business Advice.



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