Fill in your tax returns FOUR TIMES every year: who is affected

Mllions of earners are to be forced to file tax returns four times a year. Self-employed workers, landlords and small business owners currently have to submit their figures just once every 12 months. Switching them to quarterly returns will bring them into line with big corporations. Initially workers will not have to pay tax four times a year. But accountants suspect quarterly returns are a step toward this.

The plans were slipped out in the small print of George Osborne’s autumn statement. Around four million people will be affected: the self employed, small business owners and landlords who make more than £10,000 a year profit.

The Government expects most self-employed workers to be filing quarterly and online by 2020. It will thrash out the details over the next year when the plans go out to consultation.

The first stage of the £1.3billion digital revolution at HMRC is expected soon with the launch of personal tax accounts for a million workers. These will act like an internet bank account, and keep an up-to-the-minute record of tax paid.

At present every self-employed worker or small business owner needs to file a paper return by October 31, or an online one by January 31. Tax must be paid by January 31. Under the new system however, they will have to file online every three months – like big firms that report their financial results quarterly. They face having to use a complicated and lengthy online form each time. Given its track record for poor customer service, there are also doubts as to whether HMRC will be able to roll out a system efficiently and with proper support for taxpayers. In June it emerged that the taxman had failed to answer 18 million phone calls from the public in 12 months.

On the other hand, the HMRC tells a different story: ‘Many taxpayers have told us they would like more certainty over their tax bill and we acknowledge that they shouldn’t have to wait until after the end of the year before being landed with an unexpected tax bill. That’s why we’re making it easier for them to update their tax information more regularly from 2018. We will ensure people have access to guidance and support where needed, including access to telephone filing….We are focused on creating a tax system that is more effective, more efficient and easier for taxpayers.’


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