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Tax returns: 31 October deadline for paper returns

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Anyone sending in a self assessment return for 2009/10 on paper has only a few days left to file the return. HMRC has reminded taxpayers that paper returns filed after 31 October could incur a £100 penalty.

‘Recalling the postal difficulties experienced by paper filers in October last year it would be good to get your return submitted well before the deadline, especially as 31 October falls on a Sunday this year,’ said the CIOT’s Low Incomes Tax Reform Group earlier this month.

Many of those who complete a tax return have switched to online filing, LITRG said, but for many taxpayers this is either not possible or practical, or they still prefer to complete and submit a paper return.

LITRG pointed out that HMRC does not give receipts for tax returns that are either posted or handed in at an Enquiry Centre. ‘If you are posting the tax return, ask the Post Office for a certificate of posting or send it recorded delivery. If you hand the return in at an Enquiry Centre, make a diary note of when.’

HMRC guidance says: ‘If you send in a paper tax return for 2009/10, it must reach HMRC by midnight on 31 October. The deadline for paper tax returns is only normally later than 31 October if:

  • you received your tax return, or a letter telling you to file online, after the 31 July [or]
  • there's no software available to file your tax return online, for example non-resident companies.’

Returns delivered shortly after the deadline
HMRC says: ‘You won’t have to pay a late filing penalty if:

  • your tax return is in the HMRC office letter box when it is first opened on Monday 1 November 2010 [or]
  • your tax return is received in the post on Monday 1 November 2010 or handed in during office hours on that day. In this case, HMRC will however have longer to start a check into your tax return – until 31 January 2012 rather than 31 October 2011. The same applies to tax returns that are found in HMRC office post boxes first thing on Tuesday 2 November 2010.’

Partnership and trustees
Partnerships, trustees and executors wishing to file online need to use commercial software.

‘HMRC software is only able to accept information for the partnership pages in individuals’ tax returns and there is no facility to file the separate partnership return using their software. The same also applies for trustees and executors filing trust and estate tax returns – these can only be done through commercial software,’ LITRG said.

‘Your options are therefore to submit a paper version of the return by 31 October or purchase a commercial software package and register through the HMRC online services well before 31 January.’