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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
, see all updates

Debt and return pursuit: Self Assessment: debt and return background: SA time limits and out-of-time returns

Self Assessment return time limits

When the time limit to self-assess has passed, any charges on record for the relevant year remain payable. For example, payments on account or penalties have to be paid regardless of a return being filed, even if a return is filed showing less or no tax is due for that year. Similarly, a determination is not displaced by submission of an out-of-time return.

Note: Compliance will be responsible for calculating and raising additional tax due on a return submitted outside of the SA time limits.

DMB have no leverage to enforce submission of an out-of-time return and if encouraging the customer to be up-to-date, be careful not to imply liabilities will be reduced. There are, however, Compliance campaigns which promote submission of all returns, and applications of new daily penalties that may provide incentive to file returns sooner.

We have provided additional guidance for customers requesting time to pay, see DMBM803040.

Checking the Self Assessment time limit

  • Note the relevant tax year end (5 April YYYY).
  • Obtain the electronic filing date and determination date from ‘SA RETURN SUMMARY’.
  • Apply the following rules to find out if the time limit to self-assess has passed; either:

    • four years from the end of the tax year
    • if a determination is on record, the later of three years from the filing date of the return and 12 months from the date of the determination.

Note: Not all returns are issued in April each year. A late-issued return can extend the time limit to self-assess.

For more about treatment of returns filed after the SA time limit, see SAM121080.

If the customer intends to file the out-of-time return

The customer should send it to the address shown on the return and direct any subsequent queries about the return or returns to 0300 200 3310. Explain to the customer that:

  • any additional liability will be payable by assessment once our Compliance department have reviewed the information on the return or returns
  • overpaid tax paid at source declared on the return will not be refunded
  • where a determination was issued, it can only be displaced if the customer submits their out-of-time return within three years of the filing date or 12 months from the date of the determination; otherwise it remains payable if not already paid (as do payments on account and penalties), but see the Special Relief exception note below.

Note: Special Relief provision has been made to protect genuinely vulnerable customers who have been prevented from filing their return, within the time limit to self-assess, by issues beyond their control. Special Relief claims must meet several conditions before they can be considered, and cannot be considered until the out-of-time return is sent in. Full guidance can be found in the SA Claims Manual at SACM12220.

Customer requests a return for completion

It is recommend for the customer to self-serve, and this can be done by registering and filing online or by printing a duplicate from the HMRC or National Archive websites.

Note: It is only possible to file online for in-date tax years.

During all contact and communication, direct customers to:

  • HMRC (web) for in-date tax return years
  • HMRC (web) (The National Archives) for an older return year.

If the customer insists HMRC provide an in-date paper return, refer them to either the helpline or orderline, according to their needs. For:

  • a core return via the SA Helpline, phone 0300 200 3310
  • supplementary pages via the SA Orderline, phone 0300 200 3610.

For more information, see the customer services content in SAM70000.