Charterhouse Blog

Quack quack – have you completed your tax return?

Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is using ducks to remind people about the impending self assessment tax deadline (31st January 2018 for the 2016-2017 tax year). With captions such as “Don't let your tax return peck away at you”, tax payers may feel that they are being hen-pecked into paying their tax returns. Angela MacDonald, HMRC director general for customer services, said: "It's easy to put off doing your Self Assessment, but that tax 'niggle' means it's always on our customers' minds.” We are assured that no harm was done to the ducks featured in the HMRC posters and that all have now been returned to a bird sanctuary in Oxfordshire.

The busy month!

January is always a busy month for accountants like ourselves and there is usually a last-minute scramble for business owners or directors to provide their personal tax information so that accountants can process the data and complete the returns in a timely manner. We would strongly advocate that it is in an individual's interests to reduce stress all-round and submit information for returns as early as possible and in so-doing avoid the penalties that HMRC impose for tardy submissions.

It seems that those choosing to complete their own tax returns were busy over the Christmas period. According to HMRC 2,590 self-assessment returns were submitted on Christmas Day and a further 7,655 were submitted on Boxing Day.

New rules

One rule change this year is that after January 13, sole traders and company directors will no longer be able to use their own credit card to pay their self-assessment tax bill. Instead they will have to use a business credit card or choose to pay via bank transfer or debit card. An overhaul of the current system is in process and significant changes are expected to be ready in 2020. Rule changes will see a scrapping of the annual tax return and replacement by a new digital document (all submissions will be online). The new system will allow taxpayers to choose to pay on a quarterly basis, rather than once a year.

Some fun – late tax return excuses

We can't resist sharing the following which are excuses for missing the 31 January Self Assessment deadline as revealed by HMRC.

  • My tax papers were left in the shed and the rat ate them
  • I’m not a paperwork orientated person – I always relied on my sister to complete my returns but we have now fallen out
  • My accountant has been ill
  • My dog ate my tax return
  • I will be abroad on deadline day with no internet access so will be unable to file
  • My laptop broke, so did my washing machine
  • My niece had moved in – she made the house so untidy I could not find my log in details to complete my return online
  • My husband ran over my laptop
  • I had an argument with my wife and went to Italy for 5 years
  • I had a cold which took a long time to go

The excuses were all used in unsuccessful appeals against HMRC penalties for late returns.

More information about submitting tax returns can be found at and, of course, although we are very busy, let us know if we can help you in some way!

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