Online filing tips for the January deadline

By: Julian Shaw

Date: 15 January 2010

The deadline for submitting your tax return is fast-approaching. Below are some tips to help make this an easier process.

31 January deadline

If you have a tax return and do not file it on time you will be fined £100.

If the return was issued in April 2009, or any time up to 31 October 2009, it must be submitted by midnight on Sunday 31 January 2010, with a very small number of exceptions.

(If you were sent a return after 31 October 2009, you have three months from the date it was issued. You can file it online or by paper, and the guidance below does not apply to you.)

If HMRC receive your tax return after 31 January you'll get a late filing penalty of £100. 

Avoiding Penalties

If you pay all the tax you owe by 31 January you will not need to pay the penalty. 

Submitting your tax return

You will now need to send your return online. If you send in a paper version at this stage, even before 31 January, you will be fined £100.

If you have previously filed online you can use the same system as last time.

You will need your user ID, which was sent by HMRC when you first registered. If you cannot find it, go to the HMRC online filing site where you will be able access 'lost user id' or 'lost password' services.

You will be asked a number of questions, following which a replacement user ID and password can be issued. These may be sent online or by post. If you think you may have lost the details, give yourself plenty of time to get a replacement.

If you can find neither ID nor password you should contact the Online Helpdesk.

Registering to file online

If you have not previously filed online, you will need to register to obtain an activation code. You will not be able to file online without this code.

The code will be posted to you, and to ensure you receive it on time you must register by 21 January 2010.

Tips for online filing

There can be many people trying to file at the same time. In 2008, 200,000 people filed on 31 January. Try to use quiet periods.

HMRC provide year round online services, 24 hours a day. Avoid delays by accessing them on weekdays after 5pm or before 8am.

There may be maintenance issues. Check the HMRC site for scheduled downtime.

Use the HMRC website for step-by-step guides, and also the built in help available in free HMRC software.

Visually impaired users can access specific help.

Paying your tax

As well as filing your return, whether paper or online, you must pay tax due for 2008-09 by 31 January 2010.

Direct Debit payments are now possible, provided you have registered online. Paying this way allows you to make a payment as soon as you have worked out what it should be.

HMRC now kindly let you manage your finances by setting up regular payments towards your next bill.

Exceptions to online filing

HMRC allow you to submit using a paper tax return after 31 October if:

  • Their software cannot handle it, for example non-resident companies.
  • You have been told that you cannot!

Julian Shaw


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