tax returns

For many UK residents, tax is automatically deducted from their wages, pension or savings. However, millions of people and businesses with other income have to report it in a tax return.

And, if you do have to submit a tax return to HM Revenue and Customs for the 2015-2016 tax year (6 April 2015 to 5 April 2016), the deadline is fast approaching.

Keep reading for a complete guide to who needs to send a tax return, how you do it, and what the deadlines are.

Who needs to send a tax return?

It isn’t just self-employed people that have to submit a tax return. You will need to send a tax return if, during the 2015/16 tax year:

  • You were self-employed
  • You earned more than £2,500 in untaxed income (for example from renting a property or from savings and investments)
  • Your income was over £100,000
  • You earned income from abroad that you need to pay tax on
  • You or your partner’s income was over £50,000 and one of you claimed Child Benefit
  • You made a profit on selling an asset and you need to pay Capital Gains Tax
  • You earned more than £10,000 in gross savings and investment income
  • You lived abroad but had an income from the UK

You may also have to submit a tax return if you were a trustee of a trust or pension scheme, you had previously received a P800, or you were a religious minister. You can check whether you need to fill out a tax return on the Government’s website.

When is the deadline for submitting a tax return?

If you want to submit a paper tax return for the tax year 2015/16 then you have already missed the deadline, which was 31 October 2016.

To submit your tax return now you should register for self assessment online. You can then send your return through HMRC’s free self assessment online service.

The deadline for submitting a tax return for the 2015/16 tax year (6 April 2015 to 5 April 2016) is midnight on 31 January 2017.

What tax do I pay?

When you have filed your tax return online, you will get a bill for the tax you owe.

You can see this:

  • When you have completed your tax return but before you submit it (in the ‘view your calculation’ section)
  • In your final tax calculation

Your bill includes the tax you owe for the last tax year. If it is more than £1,000, your bill will usually include an additional payment towards next year’s tax bill – a ‘payment on account’.

If you have already made a ‘payment on account’ for the 2015/16 tax year, you will need to deduct this in order to work out what you owe.

You can make a payment in a variety of ways. You can pay your tax by debit or credit card online, at your bank or building society, or through telephone banking.

The deadline for paying the tax that you owe is midnight on 31 January 2017.

What happens if I send my tax return late?

If you have to send a tax return and you miss the deadline of 31 January you will face a penalty.

The penalty is £100 if your tax return is up to 3 months late. If you don’t pay the tax that you owe by the deadline you may also face interest charges on the outstanding amount, as well as a penalty or surcharge.

You can appeal against a penalty if you have a reasonable excuse, for example a bereavement or a serious illness.