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08:48 on Wednesday
7 March 2001

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When is a deadline not a deadline? When it's a tax deadline


With penalties, surcharges and interest looming for the millions of us struggling to submit our 1999/2000 tax returns before the 31st January deadline i.e.taxguard explain what the Inland Revenue actually means by "deadline".

Strictly, Self Assessment tax returns for 1999/2000 that were issued before 1st November 2000, must be received by your tax office by 31st January and all tax due for the year must have been paid by that date. If the Tax Return is late there is an automatic penalty of up to 100, and if the tax is paid late interest is currently charged at 8.5% per annum (calculated daily).

However, the kind-hearted people at the Inland Revenue have again extended the deadline this year so that any tax return on the door mat of any tax office by 7.30 am on 2nd February 2001 will be treated as meeting the deadline. They are expecting such a last minute rush of forms that many tax offices will be open from 8am to 8pm from 29th to 31st January to deal with it.

As any tax you owe still has to be paid by 31st of January, don't wait for the Inland Revenue to confirm the amount due: it can take them months to "process" the late rush of tax returns. Sending a cheque to the Inspector of Taxes with your Tax Return is not good enough; the payment has to reach the Collector of Taxes by the deadline. However, you can pay at a bank using a cheque and giro credit or by debit card over the telephone or Internet if you need to get the payment in quick. The Collector of Taxes does not accept credit cards!

There are some lucky people who do not have to meet the 31st January deadline: those who were issued with a Tax Return after 31st October 2000. For these lucky few the deadlines for submitting the tax return are:

2 months from issue (if you want the Revenue to work out your tax position) or 3 months from issue if you do the tax calculation yourself.

The tax due has to be paid within a month of receiving the Inland Revenue's "Self Assessment" tax calculation or within the three month period if you work out the figure yourself.

There is always the option of submitting your Tax Return online, although this system has had problems in the past. If you do send your Return via the Internet make sure that it is not rejected (most software allows you to test for this before you finally press the submit button). Print a copy of the acceptance message as evidence.

However you do it, make sure that you do get your Tax Return in, even if it is a bit late. Hector the Inspector may have just been retired by the Inland Revenue, but his colleagues still want your Tax Return and will not rest until they get it.

January 2001

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