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Ten top tips for completing tax returns

10th Jan 2006
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HM Revenue & Customs has published 'Ten Top Tips' to help taxpayers file their self assessment returns correctly before the 31 January deadline, to avoid the £100 penalty.

In 2004/05, HMRC issued 998,000 £100 penalty notices for late filing, from 9.8 million self assessment tax returns.

The 'tips' provided by HMRC are the 10 most common mistakes people make when filing their returns. Roy Massingale, director of self-assessment at HM Revenue & Customs says: "We know people find the process a chore. We are highlighting some of the most common mistakes, so when people send us their return they get it right first time."

The most common mistakes are:

1. A 'yes' tick has been entered in one of the questions 1 to 9 on page 2 of the tax return but the supplementary page has not been sent with the return.
2. The self-employed pages have not been completed, particularly on page SE3 from box 3.74 onwards.
3. Information has been detailed on separate schedules instead of being included in the return.
4. Manuscript notes have been entered on the return i.e. "per accounts" and/or "information to follow" instead of the actual figures.
5. A separate supplementary page for each individual employment has not been completed.
6. The net figure of employee personal pension premiums has been entered, instead of the gross figure, in box 14.11 of the core return
7. The capital expenditure figure has been entered in Box 3.14 of the Self Employment pages, instead of the capital allowances figure (i.e. claiming excessive relief).
8. Question 19 of the core return has not been completed, where a repayment is due.
9. Pay has been entered in box 1.8 on the Employment pages, but any tax deducted has not been entered

And finally....

10. The return has not been signed, which means it will be rejected immediately.

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By Paul Soper
14th Jan 2006 12:24

Think
The front page of the tax return is the official notice required by s8 to file a return, so even if the revenue say in a letter you won't be required to do, legally, by issuing a return that overrides any statement in a letter. If the client is sent a return they must file it. Watch the new simplified returns as well - in the old pre-self-assessent days there used to be a simplified non-statutory return which could safely be ignored - the simplified return also contains the necessary legal notice to file and so if issued should not be ignored. Here the problem is that they may issue one to a person who cannot use and so should contact them or otherwise suppy the full return - remember the legal notice is to to a return, not complete the actual document that is issued. For companies where the CT603, the legal notice, is issued as a separate document its perhaps slightly clearer, but the legal function of page 1 of the return is inescapable.

As for Colin's occasional freelance income, the idea if he, or any client is not required to file a return, but they have taxable income, is to notify the revenue, if they want by phone (by 6 October following the end of the year) and the revenue can then collect the tax by adjusting the following year's coding notice, or may even issue a P810 a coding notice review form.

But any client who wants to continue to file a return can do so - simply notify the revenue after they issue the return not required letter and they should override the system and continue to issue a return.

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By Anonymous
11th Jan 2006 12:57

No longer required to complete an SA Return?!
Sheila is quite right.

We have had a couple of instances where notices were issued to clients in November advising that following a review, they were no longer required to complete Returns.

In neither case had we actually submitted 2005 Returns so it seemed reasonable for the client to think the Revenue were basing the decision on the 2004 Return, being the last one filed and hence no 2005 Return was required.

In both cases, 2005 Returns had been issued!

This is indeed somewhat infuriating!

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By TONY.TONYPOMFRET.COM
11th Jan 2006 16:18

Revenue "no longer required" notices
I totally ignore and file such notices, unless the client is a Director, or I am aware of continuing non-taxed income, in which case I immediately take the matter up with the Revenue. As all of our tax returns have been submitted by FBI for well over 18 months we have access to all of our clients on the IR Portal, where a lot of information is available, including whether tax returns have been issued and whether they have been filed. Invaluable!
The latest Revenue ploy to impede our progress which was encountered today is to ask for the original Government Gateway authorisation (issued over 2 years ago) when we have established a 64-8 authority, but the client does not appear on our client list on the IR Portal, and we cannot FBI. Rediculous!!

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By ChrisMartin
11th Jan 2006 14:14

Same here.....
...I had one this morning. The (elderly) client has received a reminder from the Revenue. The letter received last May states that having reviewed the 2004 return, the Revenue would not require any more "in the future". Call me gramatically deficient, but unless a manual 2005 return was attached to our copy, my reading of that is that a 2005 return is not required.

Surely not a ploy to generate penalty income from the taxpayers who can least afford it?!

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By cwilson
11th Jan 2006 14:56

Hmmmm . . .
I've had one of these "Further Returns not neccessary" type notices following the acceptance etc. of my personal 2004/5 return (sent in about 22/9/2005 for "them" to calculate).
I thought this was a bit funny at the time, as I have had occasional freelance income (albeit a few hundred per annum at most) in addition to my salaried PAYE job for each of the last 5 years at least
Must re-read carefully in the light of this!

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By Swedish Chef
12th Jan 2006 12:40

Assumption?!
Why are you "assuming" the date from which Returns are no longer required? I agree that the letter should state the year but if not, surely a simple phone call to the Revenue would clarify? Still a lot cheaper than getting a penalty notice and then spending time getting it cancelled!

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By stevec.cooperparry.com
13th Jan 2006 10:39

Agree with Tony
I also generally ignore such letters and will just send in a tax return as and when one is due. One client had 5 letters firstly saying he did not have to file then one saying he did, and so on and so on!

Steve Coates
TaxBlogger.co.uk

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