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Tax return date looms large

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Taxpayers are being reminded that they must submit their self assessment returns online by 31 January.

Failure to do so could mean a £100 penalty.

31 January is also the date by which tax owing needs to be paid.

However, self assessment taxpayers who are experiencing difficulties in meeting their 31 January tax bills can ask to delay payment.

The Business Payment Support Service (BPSS) was set up by the Chancellor in the pre-Budget Report to help businesses cope with the financial pressures of the economic downturn.

HM & Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have confirmed that the BPSS scheme is open to the country’s 10 million individual self assessment taxpayers, including freelancers, contractors and those who receive income from buy-to-let properties.

Normally, self assessment payments due by 31 January but not made by the end of February would attract a 5 per cent surcharge on the unpaid sum.

But taxpayers who are given permission to delay payments, while not incurring a penalty, will still have to pay interest on the outstanding amounts.

The service is aimed at taxpayers who are in genuine difficulty, are unable to pay their taxes by the deadline and are likely to be able to pay their liabilities if they are given more time.

HMRC say that they can give a decision within 10 minutes of a call to the helpline, although requests to delay large outstanding sums or those involving more complex tax affairs may take more time before a decision is reached.

Anyone calling the Business Payment Support Service should have some essential information to hand such as their tax reference number, details of the tax that they are struggling to pay and basic figures about income and expenditure.

The Business Payment Support Line can be contacted on 0845 302 1435. The line is open Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 8.00pm, and on Saturdays and Sundays from 8.00am to 4.00pm.