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Brown HMRC envelope. An envelope from the UK tax office HM Revenue and Customs. Never a welcome letter to receive.

HMRC stops sending blank self assessment returns


HMRC recently announced that it would no longer be automatically sending blank copies of self assessment returns as part of a paper-saving measure.

14th Apr 2020
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In 2019, HMRC automatically sent out over 500,000 paper returns. In an online announcement this month, the department said self assessment taxpayers will no longer receive paper returns to encourage them to use the online service instead.

Instead of their self assessment return, taxpayers will be presented with a notice to file via their personal tax account. Accessing the online account will trigger an invitation to authorise paperless communication via their personal tax account.

Taxpayers will still be able to file with paper by downloading the blank forms from HMRC’s website and sending the completed returns in by the 31 October paper filing deadline.

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Replies (2)

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the sea otter
By memyself-eye
09th Apr 2020 18:35

I got a paper 'reminder' today to complete an SA return for 2020. I've been doing SA returns on line for... ever!
The letter, 2 pages long, went in the (recycling) bin.

Doubtless my wife will get hers tomorrow!

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Replying to memyself-eye:
By richard thomas
10th Apr 2020 10:41

I assume it wasn't really a reminder or you wouldn't have used quotation marks. More likely it was another letter of the same type you have been receiving "forever" ie a statutory notice to file under s 8 TMA. Unless you have signed up for digital communication then HMRC are obliged to send you the notice by post if they want to charge you penalties for failing to deliver it on time.

What strikes me about the announcement is that no one making a paper return in future will be doing so other than voluntarily, as they will not receive a return addressed to them which contains the notice to file, as actual paper returns did.

Any return printed off the internet and sent to HMRC will be a voluntary return treated as a real one by s 12D TMA.

Now might be the time for HMRC to acknowledge reality and declare that the UK no longer has a self-assessment system (except for the very small minority of paper filers who file late).

If you file online then HMRC does the calculation of liability within s 9(1) TMA using the tax calculation software embedded in the online return. If you file by paper and do so by 31 October then a self-assessment (Form SA110) is unnecessary as HMRC will do it. Only if you are late do HMRC have a discretion to do it if you do not.

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