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File your tax return early

Updated 8 May 2024

You do not have to wait until January to do your Self Assessment tax return – as soon as the tax year ends, you can submit your tax return at a time that suits you.

In fact, almost 300,000 early birds filed their tax return in the first week of the tax year.

Doing it early has benefits:

  • get peace of mind and avoid the stress of doing it at the last-minute
  • you’ll know what you owe, so you can budget for the year and pay your tax bill in instalments if you need to – you can also get help if you find you can’t pay
  • you can find out sooner if you’re owed a refund – and you’ll get it sooner too
  • filing early provides proof of income which you may need for a mortgage, loan or if you want to claim benefits
  • our phone lines get busy in the run-up to the Self Assessment deadline in January, but you can use our online services to do what you need to do quickly and easily

Filing online

The easiest, quickest and most secure way to complete your tax return is online, using HMRC online services.

Those who use our online services report high levels of satisfaction, but if you need help our helpline and webchat advisers will always be there for those taxpayers who need that specific type of support.

Find out more about setting up a HMRC online services account.

Do not share your HMRC online service user ID and password with anyone else.

You can also get a friend, relative or accountant to complete your return on your behalf or you can get help if you can’t pay your tax bill – find out how we can help. It’s important to let us know if your circumstances change – for example, if you think you no longer need to submit a Self Assessment tax return you must tell us

Filing a paper tax return

More than 97% of customers submit their tax return online. If you decide not to file your tax return online, you can send a paper tax return.

Find out how to request a paper version of the SA100 tax return – we may ask you about your reasons for not going online, so we can tell you about the support we can offer you.

The deadline for filing a 2023 to 2024 paper return is 31 October 2024.

Getting someone to help you with your tax return

There are several ways you can ask for help with your tax return. You can appoint a relative, friend or an accredited accountant to complete and send your tax return to HMRC on your behalf.

If you decide this is the best option for you, you will need to notify us.

Even if you authorise someone to act on your behalf, it is still your responsibility to make sure your tax return is correctly completed and submitted on time.

If you appoint a tax agent such as an accountant or bookkeeper, they can access the information they need to deal with your tax affairs using HMRC’s agent digital services. Your agent should never need to log in as you, or ask you to share your user ID and password with them.

Handing over sensitive personal information, even inadvertently, puts you at risk. Someone using your HMRC online services account could steal from both you and us, and leave you having to pay back the full value of any fraudulent claim made on your behalf.

What you need before you start

Go online to check what you need to do to file your Self Assessment tax return.

Your unique taxpayer reference (UTR)

Before you start to fill in your Self Assessment return, you will need your 10-digit Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR).

This allows HMRC to identify you on their systems.

This will be included on previous tax returns and any other Self Assessment documents you have received such as, statements or payment reminders.

You can also find it on your HMRC online services account or the HMRC app.

Read how to find your UTR number.

Your P60

If you are employed you will have to wait until you receive your P60 so you can accurately complete your tax return.

Give yourself time, and make sure you’re registered

If this is your first time completing a tax return, you will need to register for Self Assessment.  We will then send you your UTR, so give yourself enough time ahead of the deadline to make sure your UTR will be delivered in time.

If you are completing a Self Assessment return because you are self-employed, then you will also need to register your self-employment with HMRC.   This will ensure that can access contributory benefits including the State Pension.

Don’t forget

Don’t forget that: 

  • crypto assets are taxable, so you need to make sure that your tax return includes any gains or income that you received for cryptoassets - our guidance explains how we tax people who use cryptoassets such as cryptocurrency or bitcoin
  • if you complete a Self Assessment return you should use this for reporting and paying any additional earnings, pension income, interest on your savings, dividend income and non-property related Capital Gains Tax
  • if you do not currently complete a Self Assessment return then you will need to register for Self Assessment for reporting any Capital Gains Tax (if you’re eligible you may be able to use the ‘real time’ Capital Gains Tax Service), dividend income over £10,000 and savings interest over £10,000
  • if you have dividend income up to £10,000 you’ll need to contact HMRC and, if you have a PAYE tax code, you can ask for your tax code to be changed
  • for other forms of taxable income, including state pension, if you have any tax to pay, HMRC will write to you with details of how we will collect the tax – if you have a PAYE tax code from a private pension or employment, HMRC will be able to deduct the tax due automatically, and if you do not have a PAYE tax code then HMRC will inform you of how much tax you have to pay and how to pay it (a process known as simple assessment)

Plan ahead

Gather all the information you need and make a start your tax return. You don’t have to complete it in one go. Set aside small chunks of your time until it’s done.

If you know a particular month is going to be busy for your business, or you are planning to take time off then you can factor this in.

Go online to get information that will help you complete your tax return..

The deadlines

The deadline to submit your completed 2023 to 2024 tax return online and pay any tax you owe is 31 January 2025.

Although customers do not have to pay any outstanding tax until 31 January 2025, those who are employed and paid through PAYE may be eligible to pay anything they owe through their PAYE tax code if they submit their tax return by 30 December

How and when to pay your bill

If you submit your tax return early you won’t need to pay your tax bill immediately but you will know how much you owe and can then choose a payment option that works for you.

You can now make Self Assessment payments quickly and securely through the HMRC app. You can also check if a repayment is due by checking your personal tax account.

Payments on account

If you make advance payments towards your tax bill through payments on account, you will probably have paid your first payment on account as it was due on 31 January 2024. Your second payment on account will be due by midnight on 31 July 2024. If you know that your tax bill will be lower for the 2023 to 2024 tax year than for the previous tax year, then you can make a claim to reduce your July 2024 payment on account online.

It is important to remember that if you lower your payments on account by too much, you may be subject to interest charges on the difference. Any outstanding balance owing after you have paid your payments on account will be calculated once you have submitted your 2023 to 2024 tax return.

If you’re worried about your tax bill

If you are unable to pay your bill in full by the payment deadline, we want to work with you to find an affordable way for you to pay the tax you owe.

We’ll look at options, including paying your tax bill in instalments through a Time to Pay payment plan. You can request a Time to Pay as soon as you’ve filed your return. Most people can do this online without calling us – our YouTube video explains how.

Find out more about how we can help if you cannot pay your tax bill on time.

Budgeting to pay your tax bill

You can use a Budget Payment plan to make regular weekly or monthly payments towards your next tax bill. You must be up to date with your previous Self Assessment payments and you can decide how much to pay each week or month.

Set up your plan using your HMRC online account. Go to the Direct Debit section and choose the ‘set up a Budget Payment plan’ option when filling in the Direct Debit form. If the amount in your Budget Payment plan does not cover your next bill in full, you will need to pay the difference by the payment deadline. Find out more about paying weekly or monthly.

A Budget Payment plan is different from payments on account, which you normally make in January and July.

Find out more about budget payment plans.

If you have an outstanding amount after the payment due date, interest will accrue on that amount until it is paid in full, even if you are in a payment plan.

Self-serve Time to Pay allows you to choose the length of the agreement and works out the monthly payments. We recommend you repay any debt as quickly as possible, while making sure the payments are affordable.

If you’ve paid too much tax

If you have overpaid tax during the 2023 to 2024 tax year (for example if you have already paid what tax you owed for the year through your payments on account), we will let you know how much you have overpaid when you submit your Self Assessment tax return, and you may due a refund.

What to do if your circumstances change

It’s important to let us know of any changes to your details or circumstances, such as:

  • your personal details have changed
  • you no longer need to complete a Self Assessment return
  • you think you now need to complete a Self Assessment return

If your details have changed

It’s important to let us know of any changes to your details or circumstances, such as:

  • a new address or name
  • if you’ve stopped being self employed
  • your business has closed down

Don’t assume someone else will update us – you can do this yourself on GOV.UK

If you no longer need to complete a Self Assessment return

If you’re self-employed and no longer need to complete a Self Assessment tax return then let us know. Our YouTube videos on stopping Self Assessment guide you through the process of using our online service.

It’s important you tell us because if we don’t get your tax return by the 31 January deadline, you’ll receive a penalty.

If you think you now need to complete a Self Assessment return

Use GOV.UK to [check if you need to complete a tax return] ( You may need to do Self Assessment if you:

  • are newly self employed and have earned gross income over £1,000
  • are a new partner in a business partnership
  • have received any untaxed income
  • are claiming Child Benefit and you or your partner have an income above £50,000
  • your income from savings and investments is over £10,000
  • Receive over £10,000 in dividends

Protect yourself against scams

Always be on your guard against tax scams. If someone contacts you saying they’re from HMRC, never let yourself be rushed, especially if they want you to urgently transfer money or give personal information.

HMRC will never ring up threatening arrest.

Tax scams come in many forms. Some offer a rebate while others threaten arrest for tax evasion.

Make sure to take your time and if you’re unsure, check HMRC scams advice on GOV.UK.

Support with tax scams

Send suspicious texts to 60599

Forward suspicious emails to

Report suspicious phone calls through GOV.UK

You can also call us directly, but only use the contact numbers on GOV.UK.

Protect your login details

Your HMRC account contains your personal information such as your bank account details. So don’t share your HMRC login with anyone, including your tax agent.

Help and support

HMRC wants to help you get your tax right. Lots of information and support is available which includes: