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How to file SA return without UTR

20th Jan 2017
Editor AccountingWEB
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You may have already received the knock on the door. It's an inevitability: January will bring out late taxpayers clutching their tax return, and asking for help.

This could be a simple task if you’ve got the capacity to deal with their request. But if the taxpayer hasn’t got a UTR number, this could pose a problem.

AccountingWEB member Hanleymail has already experienced this common January problem, as they explained on Any Answers. A new client who just earns over the PAYE threshold approached them, wanting to make a full disclose – they haven’t completed a self assessment return in five years.

Confronted with this, Hanleymail said: “Oh the joys of January – and now we try to see if we can get a UTR before the end of the month!”

Of course, the deadline taxpayers should have notified HMRC was 5 October 2016, but as Hanleymail’s situation shows, many did not.

Those tardy taxpayers could face a late notification penalty from HMRC. And at this point, it would be too late for the taxpayer to apply for a UTR number, as you can expect a 25 day wait – crushing any thoughts of filing online before the 31 January deadline.

What you should do

But, as the ICAEW tax faculty’s recent blog explains, late notification penalties issued from HMRC are tax-geared. A penalty is nil if a full unprompted disclosure has been made within 12 months of tax due.

With online submission not being an option, this could be tricky. Instead, you can submit a paper return because a late penalty can’t apply unless the taxpayer has been issued with a SA return.

In addition to the paper return, you should include a letter, with the client’s income and calculations, the client’s national insurance number, and an SA1 or CWF1.

Without online access, you can send your client’s tax payment by cheque through the post to HMRC, Direct, BX5 5BD, with a printed payment slip. The client’s NI number should be quoted on the back of the cheque, and as the ICAEW advises, a follow up phone call to HMRC may be required.  

Have you had any late comers, looking for your self assessment assistance? Have you struggled to get a UTR before the end of the month? Have you even got the capacity to take on errant taxpayers?

Replies (4)

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Man of Kent
By Kent accountant
21st Jan 2017 13:08

Register for self assessment online, did this for several clients just before Christmas and the UTRs came through in 7-10 days.

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By chewmac
23rd Jan 2017 10:36

Potentially a very useful process, thank you.

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By Arm266
24th Jan 2017 12:01

I haven't been in this situation lately but in previous year's, a notification of the UTR came with a 3 month grace in which to submit the return.
Has anyone experienced anything different.

Thanks (1)
By Ian McTernan CTA
24th Jan 2017 14:01

I generally find penalties are not an issue where a taxpayer finds themselves having to submit a Return for the first time as they have breached some threshold- HMRC seem happy to accept a reasonable excuse and get the taxpayer on the system.

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