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HMRC reveals surge in early self assessment filers


More than 77,500 taxpayers submitted their tax return on 6 April 2023, but the Any Answers community had mixed feelings about HMRC’s announcement.

22nd May 2023
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HMRC has revealed that it had received more than double the number of early filers this April in comparison to five years prior.

The news, released by HMRC last week, noted that "more than 77,500 customers submitted their tax return for the 2022 to 2023 tax year on 6 April 2023, compared to almost 37,000 customers on 6 April 2018".

Myrtle Lloyd HMRC’s director general for customer services, added: “Filing your self assessment early means you can spend more time building your business or doing the things that you enjoy and less time worrying about completing your tax return.”

However, while the figures do present an upward trend, they did not reach the heady heights of 2020 when 96,519 early filers were documented.

A mixed response

When presented to the Any Answers community, some commenters had noticed a busier start to the tax year than others.

“I am way busier this April and May than previous years with other clients bringing/sending information earlier than usual on top of the regulars for this time of year. Not sure what's triggered it but at least I will be having some time off in August!” wrote user AdamJone82.

Fellow commenter JuliaSmith2009 said they were “looking forward to a quieter end to the year” after what has been a hectic start.

It was a similar story for AccountingWEB member JB101. The reader has received more tax return information from clients "than I usually do by the start of the summer holidays" and is "sinking under the amount of work".

However, not everyone has seen a sudden change of attitude from their self assessment clients. In fact, other users reported a dip in early filers this year.

SXGuy has seen a drop in the number of clients calling in April and May, adding that “they all seem to be delaying till June for one reason or another”.

“I actually think it's worse than the pandemic years, surprisingly,” they concluded.

Asking questions

Others were quick to question HMRC’s statistics. Any Answers veteran LionofLudesch wondered “how many of these early submissions are repayment returns?”.

Fellow member Leywood agreed, quipping that he suspects “a large portion contain some considerable errors which HMRC will never find due to being so disorganised”.

In light of HMRC’s news, have you noticed an influx of early filers this year? Let us know in the comments below.

Replies (6)

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By Hugo Fair
22nd May 2023 20:08

I've said it before, Will, but this is a non-story dreamed up by an embattled HMRC desperate for a bit (any bit) of PR that can be spun as good news - or at least claimed as an increase in their efficiency.

Whilst I cannot prove it, it seems obvious that not (m)any of those who filed on 6th April will have done so as represented taxpayers.
So HMRC need to be careful of what they wish for and claim as a success:
* Whatever proportion of these early filers are fundamentally tax reclaims, we know (if only anecdotally from the record-breaking thread on this site) that they're barely being processed; and
* The proportion of DiY returns that contain errors tends to be (not surprisingly) much higher than those submitted via agents, so that logjam just accelerated in size & volume of work required.

Of course the fact that HMRC are closing down communication channels left, right & centre at the same time won't have any impact on the flames being fanned beneath their feet ... so I guess they don't mind throwing a few more bundles of kindling onto the bonfire!

Thanks (4)
Replying to Hugo Fair:
By johnjenkins
23rd May 2023 10:58

I'm sure the reason is a "repayment" is required through CIS with a lot of people being short of money with large energy bills and cost of living.
In my own practice we have seen those that normally have their refunds (if there is one) December have given me their details in April and May.

Thanks (1)
By Mr J Andrews
23rd May 2023 09:52

This statistical news is shown to have been reported ''last week''.
This record filing must be taken with the same pinch of salt as the HMRC statistics of the number of their ''Notices To File'' allegedly issued on 6 April . ''Customers'' are still receiving these pre-dated 6 April Notices at the end of May. It appears HMRC have this God given right to post-dating formal documentation which would be regarded as no less than fraudulent elsewhere.
I would suggest to Myrtle Lloyd that less time be spent on time wasting, meaningless, duff statistics and more time on generally directing Customer Service.

Thanks (2)
By Duggimon
23rd May 2023 10:54

Will we just carry on comparing the number of 6 April filings with 2018 until we get another year with really low numbers?

How relevant is the number of people who filed their returns on 6 April 2018 to anything in today's tax landscape?

Thanks (1)
By jon_griffey
23rd May 2023 16:07

It will largely comprise 2 groups - (1) repayment cases, especially CIS and (2) those with contentious issues that feel the need to white space something, so the enquiry window ends at the earliest.

Thanks (0)
By gillsoffice
24th May 2023 10:55

Also, probably lots of mortgage applicants needing proof of earnings as rates rise and they try to get a better deal.

Thanks (1)