HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has provided guidance for tax agents and advisers to help you manage the 31 January 2014 Self Assessment deadline.
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If your clients haven't sent in their tax returns yet, they must file their online return by midnight on Friday 31 January 2014 to avoid a late filing penalty.
Your clients won't have to pay a penalty if they have a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline. Generally, a 'reasonable excuse' is when some unforeseeable or unusual event beyond their or your control has prevented the filing of the return on time. The return should be sent or payment made without unreasonable delay, once the 'reasonable excuse' has ended.
A range of internet filing enabled software and online forms are available from HMRC and commercial software suppliers.
You can file most tax returns online using either the free HMRC service or commercial software. You still need to register for HMRC Online Services first, whichever option you choose.
If you use commercial software, you can file tax returns on behalf of a client without submitting a formal authorisation. This is known as the 'File only service'.
There is currently no software available for filing the following tax returns:
It's not possible to file tax returns online where one of the following supplementary pages is required
Check HMRC's 'service issues' page to find out about any issues that are affecting the Self Assessment online service along with suggested solutions.
HMRC has seen an increase in fraudulent activity by people trying to obtain personal information, so it's a good idea to make your online experience as safe as possible. Please keep your online credentials safe and if you have received an email claiming to be from HMRC that you suspect may be fraudulent, please forward it to: email@example.com.
If your client hasn't completed tax returns before, they'll need to be registered for Self Assessment to be given a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR).
As a tax agent or adviser, you must be formally authorised to deal with HMRC on your client's behalf.
Your client must pay any amount due for the tax year 2012-13 by 31 January 2014. This payment deadline is the same whether they've filed on paper or if they file online.
There are various electronic payment methods available to enable your clients to pay what's due. These include a Budget Payment Plan that offers a way for your clients to pay their Self Assessment by making regular voluntary payments towards their future tax bill.
If your client chooses to post their Self Assessment payment to HMRC please ask them - where possible - to use their computer-printed payslip. The payslip can be found at the foot of Self Assessment statements of account and payment reminders such as the SA309 series. If your client doesn't have the computer-printed payslip, then they can complete a short form online and print it off for posting.
You need to take action if you know in advance that your client's payment to HMRC is going to be late, or if you think they are going to have problems making a payment.
HMRC can't provide UTR details over the telephone due to its responsibilities to protect customer information. If your client can't find their UTR, they should contact the Self Assessment Helpline.
If your client owes less than £3,000, you can opt to have it collected through their tax code where appropriate. To do this, you must file your client's return online, and indicate that this facility is required, on or before 30 December 2013. This option will not be available after that date.
If you've entered a positive figure in 'Averaging adjustment' (only for farmers, market gardeners and creators of literary or artistic works) or have claimed to carry back a loss in the self-employment or partnership sections and haven't already made a claim for the loss to be carried back, then you must make an entry in the 'decrease in tax because of adjustment to an earlier year' box. A credit will then be created on the statement for the amount claimed.
The 2012-13 Self Assessment tax return includes a tick box for use when the customer has a deferment of National Insurance contributions (NICs). It's common for customers with deferment to forget to tick this box, which can result in them paying too much Class 4 NICs. Please make sure the deferment box is ticked when appropriate.
If a Self Assessment tax return has not been issued your clients must notify any chargeability to Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax or Class 4 NIC for 2012-13, by 5 October 2013, or a 'failure to notify' penalty may apply. Any penalty is based upon the amount unpaid at 31 January 2014. So if a customer pays what is due in full by 31 January 2014, no penalty will be due.
A series of 'toolkits' is available to help minimise common errors when completing clients' returns. They provide guidance on areas of error that HMRC frequently sees and set out the steps that you can take to reduce those errors.
If you're having technical problems using HMRC's Self Assessment online service - for example signing up for a service, filing a tax return or accessing account information, or if you believe the details displayed for your last HMRC log in are not correct - you should contact HMRC's Online Services Helpdesk.
You can call one telephone number - Tel 0300 200 3311 - for all queries relating to your clients' personal Self Assessment or PAYE matters. This is a full and fast service for agents with shorter recorded announcements, more experienced staff and access to technical help.
Agent Account Managers (AAMs) can help resolve ongoing problems more quickly and provide a new Agents' Issue Resolution Service. Before you can make use of the services provided by the AAM team, you must register using the online User Registration form.