SA filing deadline war stories

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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?

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About Mark Lee

Mark Lee works almost exclusively with savvy sole practitioners who want more out of their practice.  More clients, more money, more time, more satisfaction - or everything!

An accountant by profession, Mark moved away from the provision of professional advice in 2006.   He is now a professional speaker, mentor, facilitator, author and debunker.

Mark Lee is a realist and regularly debunks myths and hype related to his areas of interest and expertise.  His keynote talk for audiences of accountants is How to STAND OUT and be more than 'just another accountant'.

Mark is passionate about helping accountants generally so is a keen blogger and commentator in the accounting and tax press. He is consultant practice editor of AccountingWEB and has written hudnreds of articles here that have been viewed over a million times.

Check out how he could help you here:

Mark stopped giving tax advice himself despite being a past Chairman of the Chartered Accountants’ Tax Faculty. He is however Chairman of the Tax Advice Network - the UK's highest ranked lead generation website for tax advisers and accountants. The network also publishes a weekly practical tax update for accountants in general practice and full tax support, on demand too.  You can also use it as a lead generation resource for local people seeking tax advice from an accountant.

Mark has extensive network reach through his blogs, talks, social media activity, articles and his regular newsletters that go to thousands of accountants every week.


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27th Jan 2012 14:27

double the fee in January sounds like a great idea

a question of timing to get the client to agree in advance when asserting "I promise next year will be different".

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30th Jan 2012 11:07

HMRC - Help

Not sure if this is the correct forum to report but I was unclear where the correct place on the SA  online form  to report the previous year  losses incurred on a Property letting. Having rang the HMRC help desk over the course of several days last week I was told I needed to speak with a technision, but none were available, but was offered a "call back", however this could take a least 5 working days. I concluded as this was likely to be after the 31st Jan deadline I sought the help of AW members, and was given and most gratfull for the advice and help especially from johnpaul, which enabled me to complete and submit the Return.

Here to the crunch of the matter, justfyably acknowleging the helpful advice given by AW members, and quietly bemoaning the useless and inefficient service provided HMRC .To my amazement I received the "call back" telephone call on Sunday afternoon from HMRC, the adviser/technision responding to my query in an efficient and jovial manner. I  feel I must therefore, give credit where credit is due and somewhat swallow my bad thoughts, and on this occassion sing the praises of HMRC.

On a more technical issue HMRC confirmed that Maternity Allowance for the self employed is non taxable and therefore does not need to be included in the "Income" total, however, the same amount being paid as Maternity Pay to an employee,  through the payroll, is included in the taxable Income total. Is this just another tax anomaly or am I missing some point.

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31st Jan 2012 11:05



We have done well this year (great news about the 2 extra days) but we still have those who think we can preform the impossible.

Had a new one yesterday, with half (and much duplicated) information. We have to register them with us yet. So no chance of getting them in on time.

Of course there are those who come in and have two years to be done, and can we do it on time.................

Iam not sure if charging double fees is going to help us, as our think they do not have to pay untill the next returns are due.

I tried the nagging from 1st April, that does not work, as all you get are promises.

So if any one can think of any more ideas I owuld be very gratefull.

By the way we are in the Forest of Dean, and Foresters have their own way of doing things.


Veronica E Godfrey




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to taxguru
31st Jan 2012 11:27

no registration required

Veronica wrote:

Had a new one yesterday, with half (and much duplicated) information. We have to register them with us yet. So no chance of getting them in on time.

If you use software, then you don't need to register them with you anywhere, as long as you have the UTR.

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By RogerCB
31st Jan 2012 11:08

Late returns

A client of ours, who is one of the regular latecomers, delivered his information yesterday and we emailed the return to him for approval this morning, which he did straight away.  After receiving my email confirming that we had filed the retun and had just 1 left to go, he responded saying he was disappointed that he had not won the "competition" to be last.  We generally charge a premium of 1/3 on late arrivals, I think we might need to increase to double the rate and he might then not be so keen to win!



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31st Jan 2012 14:32

Late filing of 2011 Tax Return

A client called me this morning and went,"Sorry but I'm gonna be late.I got a flat."

I replied,"Well next time could you please do your accommodation arrangements after hours."

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31st Jan 2012 16:08

SA deadline

Hi Mark, great article.

I offer a cheaper fee if I do the book-keeping - that way I can keep everything up to date either monthly or quarterly, I don't have to check everything  and am able , therefore,  to draw up final accounts soon after the clients' year end.

However, there are always one or two......... I received some information from one client last night and another has yet to give me her paperwork!


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By Eric T
31st Jan 2012 17:21

I had bout 30 to submit at the begining of January. All, bar one, were submitted by 28 January. I still have one which has not been finalised as the client thought that the profits in her income and ecxpenditure account looked too high. We agreed that if she could show that the profit really was lower, then the £100 penalty would be less of an issue than overpaying Income Tax and Class 4 NI.

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