Final dash to complete self-assessment tax returns as deadline day arrives

The final dash is on to submit self-assessment tax returns to the taxman, as those eligible have until the end of Thursday to submit them.

The deadline to complete a 2017/18 tax return online is 11.59pm on January 31.

Just over 11.5 million returns are due – and as of Tuesday more than 9.5 million had been received, with around 1.9 million people still to get their returns in at that time.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has been reminding people that if their tax return is late, they will receive a £100 penalty, even if they do not owe any tax.

The longer the delay, the bigger the size of the penalties.

Last year, more than 93% of customers filed their returns by the deadline.

If customers think they will not be able to complete their tax return by January 31, they should contact HMRC.

The taxman recently released a list of unusual but unsuccessful excuses for why people failed to get their tax returns in on time, including someone who claimed they had been the victim of a witch’s curse.

HMRC has said help will be provided for those who have a genuine excuse for not submitting their return on time.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said it is urging HMRC to exercise leniency towards sole traders who submit returns late or incorrectly.

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “When considering action against sole traders who have struggled to complete returns, HMRC officials should have a good look in the mirror and consider their own shortcomings.

“They must remember that the self-employed are specialists injecting much-needed expertise and flexibility into our economy.

“The vast majority are not tax specialists – and they don’t have time for hold music.”

An HMRC spokesman said: “More than nine million people have already done their return, and we’ve kept average call waiting times to five minutes, even during the busiest times of year.

“We also offer additional support for customers through our popular webchat and Twitter services, as well as video guides and webinars on gov.uk.

“We always encourage anyone who has to do self-assessment to get started early and not leave it to the last minute.

“We work hard to tackle phishing scams and have warned customers to be careful in the run-up to the self-assessment deadline.”

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