While most people were busy opening presents, tucking into turkey and relaxing on Christmas Day, 3,275 people used the time to file their tax return to HMRC.
This is an increase from 2021, when 2,828 returns were filed to HMRC on Christmas Day.
While 141 people opted to file between 23:00 and 23:59 on Christmas Eve – maybe so they could enjoy the celebrations knowing their tax return was complete – the most popular time for filing on Christmas Day was between 12:00 and 12:59, when 319 returns were received. But the busiest period was between 12:00 and 12:59 on Boxing Day, with 953 returns filed during that hour.
In total, 22,060 customers went online to submit their 2021-22 tax return during the period from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day.
However, according to HMRC, there are 5.7m people who are still set to file their tax return. With the deadline fast approaching, here are some helpful tips to make the process easier.
Boxing Day was the most popular day for tax returns
Over the festive period, Boxing Day was most popular for filing a tax return, with HMRC receiving 10,311 completed returns throughout the day. There were slightly fewer returns filed on Christmas Eve, with HMRC receiving 8,474.
While there was an increase in the number of tax returns filed on Christmas Day compared to 2021, there were fewer filed over the Christmas period as a whole.
In total, more than 31,000 customers submitted their tax returns over the three day Christmas period in 2021 – compared to 22,060 in 2022. Christmas Eve was the most popular day to file in 2021, with 19,802 tax returns filed.
4 ways to get on top of your tax return
If you haven’t filed your 2021-22 self-assessment tax return yet, you won’t be able to kick the can down the road for much longer. The online filing and tax payment deadline is midnight on 31 January. If you fail to file and pay on time, and you’ll likely incur late penalties.
So, with just weeks to go until the deadline, here are some tips to make the process easier:
1. Be prepared
Doing everything in a last-minute panic is more likely to lead to errors, so getting ahead with your preparations now can minimise the risk of fines for an inaccurate return.
First, make sure you’ve considered all of your income sources – from any capital gains to rental income and pensions. You’ll then have a better idea of what you need to declare on your tax return.
Next, gather all relevant documents and information together, including your P60 form (if you’re employed), receipts and invoices, bills, bank statements, tenancy agreements, student loan statements, details of any benefits you’ve received, and whatever other details are relevant to your circumstances.
Remember, you will also need your National Insurance number and your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number? .
2. Don’t forget your expenses
Taking full advantage of tax reliefs and allowances can knock significant sums off your bill – but they may take a while to work out if you have to track down bills and receipts.
If you’re self-employed, an obvious one is everyday business expenses. These can include business travel, office running costs such as stationery, and the cost of running a business premises, including energy bills. If you work from home you can claim a proportion of your bills for the time you are working.
Alternatively, you may be able to apply the ‘trading allowance’, which allows you to set up to £1,000 against your self-employed income. However, if you use the trading allowance, you won’t be able to deduct actual expenses.
3. Review your figures
Once you’ve finished filling in your return, take time to review the figures. If you’re still waiting on figures to be confirmed, it’s better to submit estimations than risk filing late – just make sure you let HMRC know if this is the case. Then, once the figures have been confirmed, you can go back in and update them.
When you’re satisfied that the return is correct and complete, then hit the button to file. You’ll be given the opportunity to save a PDF of your completed return.
HMRC will provide you with an electronic notification that your tax return has been filed successfully. Keep this (and the PDF of your completed form) in a safe place in case of any queries.
4. Pay your tax bill on time
Don’t forget the deadline for paying the tax you owe is also the same as filing, and if you miss it you’ll be charged interest from the date the payment was due. Late payment interest is set at 6% as of 6 January, 2023. The longer you leave it, the more interest you will incur.
Seek help if you think you can’t pay
If it’s going to be a struggle to settle the bill, you may be able to apply for a Time to Pay arrangement. This allows you to break up your tax bill into smaller instalments spread over the following months. But be warned: you’ll still incur interest on any tax that’s outstanding after the payment deadline.
To set up a payment arrangement, you’ll need to be within 60 days of the 31 January payment deadline, owe less than £30,000, and not have any other payment plans or debts with HMRC. You can set up a payment plan online or call the Payment Support Service on 0300 200 3835.
HMRC says there is no ‘standard’ arrangement, and the time period for instalments will be decided on a case-by-case basis. The important thing is to contact the tax office as soon as possible.
Complete your 2021-22 return with the Which? tax calculator
Which?’s online tax calculator tool offers a quick and easy way to find out how much tax you owe.
After inputting your income and outgoings, it can suggest expenses and allowances you might have forgotten – plus, when you’re finished, you can also submit your return directly to HMRC.
Try it for yourself at which.co.uk/taxcalculator.