Opinion Former Article

Low Incomes Tax Reform Group: There are two tax deadlines on 31 January 2018

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group is reminding the public that there are two tax deadlines on 31 January 2018.

The date of 31 January is approaching fast and with it the Self Assessment tax return and payment deadline. If you are a tax credit claimant who has submitted an estimate of your 2016/17 income, then do not forget to confirm or update your estimate by 31 January or you may not receive the correct amount of support.

Two deadlines

The annual deadline for submitting Self Assessment tax returns online and paying any tax owed is right round the corner and the LITRG is providing help and guidance throughout January to aid those on low incomes navigate HMRC’s systems. Check out its website www.litrg.org.uk, Twitter @litrgnews, Facebook or Linked IN for daily updates.

It is less well known that 31 January is the deadline for those who have submitted estimates of their previous year’s income to the Tax Credit Office, to confirm their estimate or replace it with actual figures. Most tax credit claimants must renew their claim each year by 31 July, but those claimants who do not know their income from the previous year by then (for example, self-employed claimants) can submit an estimated figure. If they do so, then they must confirm their estimate or amend it to the actual income figure by the following 31 January. If they do not, HMRC will finalise their award on the basis of their original estimate which may not be correct. This means that if their estimate was too high, they may not receive all the credit to which they are entitled, or if their estimate was too low, they may have been paid too much and, where HMRC subsequently investigate and correct the entitlement decision, they will have to repay the excess and could face a penalty.

Our self-employment section answers such questions as:
·         what dates are important for self-employment?
·         how do I pay tax on self-employed income?
·         enquiries, penalties and debt
·         what penalties might I be given?

Digital help

LITRG is also giving an overview of HMRC’s digital services, how to access them and what support is available to help you use them. This includes how to register for a Government Gateway account, details about what your personal tax account is and what to do if you have problems logging in.

HMRC are offering free webinars to help you complete your Self Assessment tax return, including: Self-Assessment Help and Support and How to complete your online tax return if you’re self-employed.

The tax authority is holding the webinars over several times and dates so you can select the option that works best for you. Webinars can last up to an hour. You can also watch pre-recorded webinars.

YouTube videos

HMRC’s YouTube channel has a range of short videos on Self Assessment covering topics such as: Having problems signing in to send your tax return online? Expenses if you are self-employed, Calculating motoring expenses, Paying your Self Assessment tax bill, Viewing your calculation.
For the full list of videos please go to the self-assessment area of HMRC’s YouTube channel.

E-learning guide

If you are self-employed, you can dip into the 'business expenses for the self-employed' e-learning guide.

Other HMRC help
To help you budget for your Self Assessment tax bill, there is a handy 'Ready Reckoner’ tool on G‌OV‌.UK.

HMRC’s Small Business Online Forum is a quick and easy way for small businesses to get answers to their tax questions, including on completing tax returns. Ask questions anytime or check the Bulletin Board to find the date of a Q&A session.

You can follow HMRC on Twitter, @HMRCBusiness to stay updated with the latest information.

For more information and links, see LITRG’s dedicated Self Assessment digital page here.

What if you still need help to prepare a tax return?

See LITRG’s website for further information on Self Assessment.

LITRG understands that it can be daunting to prepare a tax return and you may want to get some expert help. If you can afford to, you could consult a professional Chartered Tax Adviser. See the Chartered Institute of Taxation's website.

If you are on a low income, you could contact the charity TaxAid for help if you need it. TaxAid offer free, independent and confidential advice on tax matters to UK taxpayers on a low income and who are aged under 60, or who are self-employed.

Contact: Hamant Verma, External Relations Officer, 0207 340 2702 HVerma@ciot.org.uk (Out of hours contact: George Crozier, 07740 477 374)

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