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Don’t leave your online self-assessment to the last minute

While it’s easy to feel that you’ve got plenty of time until the 31 January deadline, leaving your online self-assessment to the last minute could be dangerous.

It may be hard to avoid procrastination, especially when you’ve got more than two months to get your online self-assessment in, but industry experts warn that you could end up having to rush to get our assessment in under the wire, which could all too easily lead to mistakes and errors on your part. Worse yet, missing your deadline completely will see you being subject to fines that you could have avoided if you would have just taken care of things even a week or so in advance.

Still, many Brits will stubbornly wait until the last minute. Figures from January 2012 revealed that close to 450,000 online submissions were made on the last of the month – and that just over 37,000 took place between 16.00 and 17.00 that day!

Even despite the rush, around 850,000 submissions came in after deadline – and this is even after call centre strikes prompted Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs to extend the 2012 deadline to 2 February. There are of course advantages to filing early, but freelancers and contractors often lack the relevant documents, making early filing much harder for a temporary worker than a permanent one, but also opening these freelancers up to procrastination and the possibility of missing the deadline all too easily, while also acting to delay the issue of any refund due to you from the HMRC.

By that same token, if you are owed tax back from the HMRC, submitting your return early will mean that your case is near the top of the pile when it comes time for refunds to be issued.

Also, if you are using a tax adviser or accountant, they are likely to be less busy earlier in the tax year so will be able to give your case more time and provide an even better service.

If any errors are made, it also gives you a bigger time window for these to be rectified.

If your return is late you will be charged a penalty of £100, and if you still haven’t filed three months after the January 31st deadline then a fine of £10 a day will be levied up to a maximum of £900. After six months the fines could well top £1,000 and would still apply even if it later emerged that you did not actually owe any tax.

Brookson offers help and support on self assessment matters six days a week.

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