Even Accountants Can Sometimes Be Lax About Filing Self-Assessment Tax Returns.

Most people will probably not need any reminder about the looming deadline for online self-assessment tax returns.

As accountants though we feel it’s incumbent to mention it, none the less. Anyone who fails to submit their online assessment before 31 January, 2015, faces penalty charges. However, according to figures released by HMRC this week, not everybody is up to speed on this. Data released for the 2014 returns by HM Revenues and Customs shows that the number of people who submit their returns late is still surprisingly high given the severity of the penalties that await transgressors.

HMRC’s figures show that female professionals were more likely to send their self-assessment tax returns in on time than men.

Young men, in particular, were the worst offenders in 2014, particularly those aged between 18 and 20 living in London and working in the communications industry. The most punctual were those aged over 65. Surprisingly lawyers and accountants were also shown to be lax in posting assessments with 219 late filers per 10,000 submitted. People involved in agriculture, fishing and forestry were far more efficient, with only 109 per 10,000 filing late.

The 2014 data released in the report showed that for every 10,000 tax returns received by HMRC from men, 394 were submitted beyond the relevant deadlines – either the 31st October paper-based deadline or the 31st January online deadline. However, for every 10,000 self-assessment returns submitted to HMRC by women, only 358 were received after the relevant paper-based and online deadlines.

It wasn’t just the gender gap, there were significant differences in filing behaviour: age also played its part. Those eligible to submit a self-assessment return aged 18 to 20 were the worst offenders, with 1,085 in every 10,000 returns filed late. At the other end of the spectrum, those aged 65 and over were said to be the most punctual, with only 155 out of every 10,000 tax returns missing either the paper-based or online deadline; perhaps there’s some truth in the saying ‘with age comes wisdom’.

In geographical terms, taxpayers in Northern Ireland were the most punctual with their tax returns with only 301 late submissions per 10,000 received; followed by those in Wales (346 per 10,000), England (374 per 10,000) and Scotland (391 per 10,000).

HMRC’s analysis also compared differences in tax return filing trends by industry, with those in the agriculture, fishing and forestry industry most likely to file their returns on-time. Those working in information and communication industries were least reliable with 390 tax returns submitted beyond HMRC’s deadlines per 10,000 returns.

So far, 6.45 million returns have been submitted ahead of the deadline at the end of the month, but another 4.5 million returns remain outstanding.

HM Revenues and Customs urged every one whose return has yet to be submitted to act urgently. Ruth Owen, director general of personal tax, HMRC, said:

“Whatever your gender, age, occupation or location, if you haven’t sent in your 2013-14 tax return, you need to take action now. HMRC offers a range of help and advice. But don’t leave it until the last minute to contact us. Do it now, and avoid a last-minute rush to beat the deadline.”

Those who do not file their 2013-14 tax returns before midnight 31st January will be hit with an instant £100 late filing penalty which could increase depending on how long you leave it to submit. For further information about self-assessment tax returns and late payment penalties, contact Steven Glicher accountants on 0161 405 8007.

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