Mark Lee reviews the history of the January rush and wonders if it will ever change.
Accountants are great adapters. This has been apparent to me ever since the introduction of self assessment and the 31 January filing deadline in 1998. Every time the rules change, accountants adapt. Some even plan ahead but the majority seem to just get on and cope with changes to the tax system as these arise.
How was it for you this year?
This January is the first time we have had an automated £100 late filing penalty even if there is no unpaid tax at 31 January. We also have a two-day concessional extension to the deadline – until midnight on Friday 2 February. This is to reflect the prospect of delays and problems caused by a strike by HMRC staff on 31 January.
I must admit that I wonder if HMRC’s computer will reflect the concession when it issues statements of account. Will the automatic £100 penalty charge be suppressed or will taxpayers need to appeal for it to be removed?This was why she enjoyed working in January. It was rarely too busy and all the work she did was already paid for, at double her standard rates. Even I might be happy working on tax returns in January on that basis.
What have your experiences been? Has 2012 been better or worse than in previous years? And what tips can you share to make life easier for others who have yet to find ways that enable them to avoid the January rush?