Many happy returns on Christmas Day

Almost 2,000 people filed online tax returns on Christmas Day, according to new HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) figures.

HMRC received 1,773 online tax returns on 25 December, a 13 per cent increase on last year’s total of 1,566.

The busiest time for online returns was between midday and 1pm on Christmas Day, when 148 were submitted.

Christmas Eve saw 17,644 online returns filed, four per cent up on the 17,000 received on 24 December 2013, and another 4,811 online returns were submitted on Boxing Day. That figure was seven per cent up on the 4,493 received last year.

The deadline for sending 2013-14 tax returns to HMRC is midnight on 31 January 2015. The date for filing paper returns was 31 October and all outstanding returns must now be submitted online.

The penalty regime for missing the 31 January filing deadline includes an initial £100 penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time. Any tax due must also be paid by midnight on 31 January.

To send an online tax return, a taxpayer must be registered for HMRC Online Services. This involves HMRC sending the taxpayer an activation code in the post, which can take up to ten days to arrive.

Ruth Owen, HMRC’s director general of personal tax, said on 30 December: “You can file your online return at any time of day or night. But don’t leave it too late. Give yourself plenty of time to resolve any problems and if you need to call us, do it now, as our phone lines get much busier as the 31 January deadline approaches.”

Link: HMRC guidance on self assessment tax