Tax return? I’d rather listen to Mariah Carey

Businesses have been revealing why they leave their tax returns to the last minute. Despite having up to 10 months’ notice to file their Self Assessment figures, nearly half are holding off filing until two or three months months before the deadline. And a quarter will even wait to file until next month.

In fact, late filing has seen more than one in ten small businesses and sole traders having to work on them during a Christmas holiday, including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

And when asked to identify the distractions that got in the way, 30 per cent cited last-minute shopping, followed by travelling home during peak Christmas rush (29%), listening to Mariah Carey on loop (25%) and spend time with their in-laws (21%).

These were the findings of research undertaken by Intuit QuickBooks which found that only 25 per cent of small businesses feel as if they are staying on top of their taxes and filing their return within the first month. And 22 per cent say they have previously missed the deadline resulting in considerable fines.

Most reported that the lead up to Self Assessment had impacted their business. Almost one in five have had to cut staffing hours due to a lack of time to train them, and the same number had to turn away customers.

Pauline Green, Head of Product Compliance and Programs at Intuit QuickBooks UK said: “In most cases, the idea of filing your Self Assessment tax return is much worse than actually doing it. Our research shows that doing things differently can build confidence.

“Seventy three per cent of sole traders and small businesses said that in order to submit their tax return earlier, they’d need to understand how to prepare their documentation in bite-sized chunks.

“Seventy six per cent also agreed that having an easy-to-use business tool where they can track details in an app would help. Starting early and being consistent is critical.”