Many unhappy returns as tax deadline looms

The online tax return deadline approaching at the end of January, and according to new research, up to a fifth of self-employed workers surveyed may not yet have completed theirs

The number, which equates to more than 850,000 people, admit top leaving it late, with 13 per cent completing it in December and seven per cent in November.

Researchers also found that one in seven have missed the deadline and been fined. Of those, seven in ten had to pay the standard £100.

In fact, 13 per cent of the rest claim to have paid somewhere between £501 and £5,000 due to a prolonged delay or additional interest being added, and over a quarter of late submitters said they have had to pay up to £500 more than they expected after having a tax return adjusted.

Mark Lee from UK EY TaxChat which conducted the survey, said: “Filing a tax return is a once-a-year event that can creep up on many, including the self-employed, and often results in a rush in January to get everything done before the deadline.

“Large numbers don’t quite get there and end up submitting theirs late, which can be a costly – and needless – mistake.”

While the survey found that more than a quarter of respondents claim they start their tax return at the time that suits them, almost as many say they do not have access to all the information they need until much nearer the end of the year.

Other reasons for putting it off include: “can’t face digging out all the necessary documents” or “hating the admin it involves” and even “finding it boring”.