The deadline for filing a paper self assessment tax return to HMRC is 31st October 2012. If you miss this deadline the return must be filed electronically. You then have the following options:-
–         file online via HMRC website
–         Purchase third party software that will enable you to file the return
–         Use an accountant to prepare and submit your return

Each of the options has advantages and disadvantages as follows:-

Filing online using the HMRC website

This is the cheapest option (it is free) and possibly the best solution for simple returns. However, you do not receive any assistance and the more information there is, the higher the probability of getting it wrong. Penalties for innocent mistakes can still rack up if you accidentally understate your liability. Additionally, the HMRC website cannot deal with certain circumstances eg. if you need to complete the residency pages. Finally, you obviously need a computer with an internet connection.

Purchase third party software

Commercial software should deal with most scenarios and will produce all the relevant reports and file the tax return for you. The software can vary in price for a single tax return. Again, you do not receive any assistance, and the end result can only be as accurate as the information that you put in. It can be easy to take false reassurance that everything is OK because you have used commercial software. Again, you need an internet-enabled computer.

Use an accountant

Whilst this may be the more expensive option, it may not be as expensive as you think. You have the benefit of experienced accountants and the reassurance that the correct information has been filed. You simply provide them with the source documents and let them do all the hard work. You can be confident that when they tell you your liability (or refund), it is correct and you do not get any nasty surprises. Often they may be aware of tax reliefs that reduce your liability, or even get you a tax refund, and this can more than compensate for the fee for completing the return.

Although you may not need to complete a tax return, often it is worthwhile using an accountant to prepare a tax claim on your behalf – for example if you use your car for business mileage and are not reimbursed the full 45p per mile that is allowed to be paid tax free.

If you have missed the paper deadline, or would like the reassurance of your self assessment tax return being professionally completed, or wish to make a tax repayment claim then please do not hesitate to contact us at DEB Chartered Accountants.