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Festive filers put the elf in self assessment

3,003 festive filers dodged the inevitable post-Christmas dinner washing up or excused themselves from the annual family argument in order to strike their tax return off the Christmas day to-do list.

2nd Jan 2020
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According to HMRC’s stats, the peak filing time on Christmas day was between 12noon – 12.59. Presumably, these 245 taxpayers shirked boiling the sprouts in order to file their returns and returned back at the dining table in time to carve the turkey.

The filing continued into the afternoon until midnight, as 1,297 taxpayers roused from their turkey stupor at 4pm to file tax returns. Altogether, Christmas Day's total submissions were up around 400 compared to last year. 

The next day, 9,254 crammed their self assessment tax return in between the Boxing day sales and turkey sandwiches. Again, the peak filing hour was between 12noon and 1pm where 946 tax returns were filed. But both days pale in comparison to Christmas Eve when 22,035 made a last-ditch attempt to be on Santa's nice list and file rather than be left with the proverbial tax return coal. 

“Whether you squeezed it in before tucking into a Christmas pudding, after the Queen’s Speech or trying to grab a bargain during the festive sales; our online service is available for you to file your tax return, at any time you wish.” The commented came from HMRC’s director general for customer services Angela MacDonald in HMRC's amusingly entitled ‘We've been Santa lot of Elf Assessments’ press release.

Here comes busy season

However, with more than 11 million taxpayers needing to file before the 31 January deadline, the tax returns submitted over the festive period will have done little to dent that number. All this goes to remind accountants that now Christmas and New Year have made way for the January rush.

These last-minute stragglers present the opportunity for practitioners to scale their client base or in the case of Monty Cristo on AccountingWEB’s Any Answers forum, wet their feet before moving into sole-practice.

The AccountingWEB reader, like many before them, is ready to capitalise on the expected demand by offering a discounted last minute tax return service by churning out 10 - 15 returns in the tail end of January, and through that, pick up some clients to launch their burgeoning firm.   

Though tempting to make hay, self assessment season veteran and AccountingWEB reader Penelope Pitstop advised against attracting the “undesirables”.

“I have personally tried my level best to stay well clear of this sort of client. You will literally attract clients who will turn up on your doorstep at 10 pm on 31 January wanting you to move heaven and earth to get their "simple" job finished before midnight. You will end up filing unsigned tax returns illegally because you feel compelled to by your lack of foresight.”

Were you one of the 3,003 who filed a tax return on behalf of a client? Was the self assessment machine in full force over the festive period or did you put your feet up?

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