What is every accountant’s favourite date? 31 January.

And why? Because it’s the deadline for Self-Assessment Tax Returns.

Anyone who submits their personal tax return late is fined. But you can also be fined for submitting an incorrect tax return.

Usually, HMRC won’t fine you for a genuine error, but it will delay the process. HMRC recently issued the most common errors on Self-Assessment Tax Returns. So, what are they?

  • Marriage allowance – claiming a marriage allowance from a spouse on the return without having already registered the claim through the normal channels. You need to register a marriage allowance claim with HMRC to say that you are transferring the allowance. The tax return then works out the tax.
  • Submitting an amendment instead of a return –  this can’t be processed because the original return hasn’t been submitted. This is a very common error according to HMRC.
  • Trying to file a Self-Assessment Tax Return after HMRC have told you that you don’t need to do one – it’s actually quite common for HMRC to write to people to tell them they don’t need to submit a tax return because, according to HMRC records, they think there’s no longer any need. They’re doing this to be helpful and cut down on the paperwork. However, these letters are often wrong. We do see a lot of them for our clients. Sometimes if you have had a year or two with no dividends or other income, HMRC make an assumption they can take you out of the system. But, of course, that doesn’t mean that you haven’t got taxable income or dividends this year. However, if HMRC have closed your return down, you can’t submit the new one. For our clients who we know will need a return, we just tell HMRC that that’s the case so we can still do one.
  • National Insurance – you need to register for NI before preparing a tax return. It’s like Marriage Allowance – the tax return includes the figures but, if you haven’t already registered for NI, it cannot be processed.
  • Old software – you can go online to HMRC’s site and submit your tax return or use software to file it. If you use software, ensure it’s current.
  • Putting the figures in the wrong boxes – this can happen anywhere in the form but a common error is when you are unsure whether you are employed or self-employed. This happens a lot in the construction industry and also the entertainment sector, where there are a lot of short-term contracts. Some of these contracts are through payrolls and some are self-employed. This issue does occur in other sectors as well.
  • Self-Employed Income declared as Other Income – this is another example of putting figures in the wrong box but happens so often that HMRC thought it worth stating again.
  • Declaring income for the wrong tax year – this happens more often than you may think and causes problems.
  • Not fully completing the Self-Assessment Tax Return – when processing, particularly on HMRC’s site, you can get as far as a 99% completed tax return but, if it’s not 100% complete and you have not had a receipt from HMRC to confirm acceptance, it is not submitted.

So, those are HMRC’s main errors found on tax returns that leads to delays.

As a bonus. we’ll add one that we’ve seen quite a lot over the years – Not Declaring A Student Loan. HMRC have access to the Student Loan records so they do spot this and can issue a fine.

As a rule. HMRC won’t fine you for a genuine error but, if they think it was “careless” or “deliberate”, they will issue a fine.

Of course, the easiest way to avoid all of those is to get a highly trained professional to complete your tax return for you! Of course, our clients won’t suffer from any of these errors.

If you do need any help on your tax return, please let us know, and we’ll get you sorted.

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Any questions?

If you’d like a meeting or a Skype call to discuss this, please get in touch with your favourite Liverpool accountant