Forget Christmas dinner - I've a tax return to file!

Despite the Self Assessment tax deadline being a full 37 days away from Christmas Day, record numbers of people are choosing Santa's big day as the perfect time to file their tax returns online with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

Friday, 23rd December 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 2:57 pm
Meanwhile, 600 people rang the New Year in by submitting their tax return between midnight and 10am on New Years Day last year.

The figures include:

2,044 business owners submitted Self Assessment tax returns to HMRC on Christmas Day last year - a new record, up from 1,773 in 2014 (a 13% increase);

Since 2013, there has been year-on-year increases in business owners filling their Self Assessment tax returns:

2013: 1,566 submissions were made;

2014: 1,773 submissions were made;

2015: 2,044 submissions were made.

Lunchtime (from 12noon to 1pm) is traditionally the time people were most likely to file on December 25 - with 148 people in the UK submitting at this time in previous years;

Meanwhile, 5,402 business owners ignored the Boxing Day sales and instead chose to complete their Self Assessment tax returns, while a record breaking 24,546 people submitted their tax return online on New Year’s Eve last year;

600 people even rang the new year in by submitting their tax return between midnight and 10am on New Year’s Day.

If you miss the January 31 deadline, HMRC will automatically issue you a £100 penalty, and will charge interest on any unpaid tax. You may also be able to ask HMRC to waive your penalty, if you have what they consider a “reasonable excuse” for not filing your return. If you meet the criteria, you can file a claim form.

Ed Molyneux, CEO and co-founder of FreeAgent, who provide award-winning online accounting software to freelancers, micro-businesses and their accountants, said: “Instead of sitting down to a traditional turkey dinner or watching the latest Christmas TV specials, more and more people in Britain are celebrating the festive season by choosing to file their dreaded tax returns.

“Christmas is quite a busy time for business owners, who have to juggle their social life, along with their business responsibilities. Clearly, when Christmas starts to feel a bit much, completing a tax return can actually be a great opportunity to excuse yourself from the festivities and have some quiet time away from the hubbub.

“The real benefit of filing a Self Assessment tax return at over the festive season is that business owners can have complete peace of mind for the new year and actually look forward to January, instead of scrambling at the last minute to meet the tax deadline at the end of the month. In addition to this, they can also spend more time concentrating on other parts of their businesses, which will leave them in a much better position for the rest of the next year.”

Emily Coltman FCA, Chief Accountant from FreeAgent, also provides the following tips for those will be submitting their returns online over Christmas:

1. Register – and use the right numbers:

You can’t actually submit your tax return online without being registered with HMRC first. If you haven’t already gone through this process, you need to do so and it can take a few weeks for your activation PIN to arrive through the post, and HMRC won’t give you the information over the phone.

2. Collect all your information:

Before you can file your tax return, you’ll need to collect all of the necessary information that you have to include in it. As a basic rule, this will be any money you’ve received or earned from pretty much anywhere - including wages from a job, income from a trust, interest from your bank account (except an ISA) and profits from operating a sole trader or a partnership.

3. Follow the rules:

There are many rules and regulations when it comes to tax, so make sure you follow these to the letter when completing your tax return. You can find this information on HMRC’s website or you can ask a professional accountant or tax advisor to explain the relevant points for your business.