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HMRC internal manual

Self Assessment Manual

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
, see all updates

Manage work: customer service: help with self calculation after 31 October

Background

It is our policy to give help to customers to enable them to complete their self calculations. But, we need to ensure that the benefits of filing a paper return by 31 October after the end of the return year are both real and visible to the public. A paper return filed after 31 October will have been received after the filing date, and the customer will be liable to an automatic late filing penalty.

Customer options

After 31 October, customers have four options. They can

1. Complete and file their tax return online. All of the Software and Online forms will calculate their tax liability for them. They will have until 31 January to file online, without incurring an automatic late filing penalty
   
2. Attempt the self calculation and come back for help if they are having difficulty with particular points. The paper return should have been filed by 31 October so they will be liable to an automatic late filing penalty
3. Complete the self calculation without our help. We will correct it if it is wrong, but cannot guarantee to do so in time to tell him / her how much to pay by 31 January. The paper return should have been filed by 31 October so they will be liable to an automatic late filing penalty
4. Submit the return without doing the self calculation. If so, we will still calculate the tax due, but cannot guarantee to do so in time to tell him / her how much to pay by 31 January. The paper return should have been filed by 31 October so they will be liable to an automatic late filing penalty

With options 3 and 4 the customer has to accept the risk of interest and surcharge, for tax years 2009-2010 and earlier, or late payment penalties for 2010-2011 and later, arising if we cannot tell him / her how much to pay by 31 January. The customer will be liable to an automatic late filing penalty in either case.

Penalty capping

For the tax years 2009-10, and earlier, the amount of the penalty was linked to the amount of the SA debt outstanding at close of business on 31 January.

If a customer had paid all of the tax due, the penalty was capped at £0.00.

Similarly, if an SA underpayment of less than £2,000 had been transferred to PAYE to be collected through a PAYE code during the following tax year, then the amount of the SA debt (tax due on 31 January) was nil, again the penalty would be capped at £0.00.

Guidance regarding penalties for the tax years 2010-11 and later, can be found under SAM61200 onwards.

Customers seeking help

Your approach to customers seeking help after 31 October depends on the extent to which the customers have attempted to self calculate.

If the customer is having difficulty with particular points on the self calculation, you should give help, to the same extent as you would for other parts of the return, on the aspects which are troubling him / her.

SA Tax Calculators are available on the SEES menu in Excel and can be used to

  • Check a self calculating customer’s liability on the telephone

Or

  • Assist customers with their self calculation on the telephone

However before assistance is given, the customer must have completed their SA return in full and be able to give the details from their completed return over the telephone.

If the customer has made little or no attempt to complete the self calculation and asks to be guided through the whole form or substantial parts of it you should

  • Refuse the request politely but firmly, unless the taxpayer is incapable of completing the self calculation (see ‘Special needs’ below)
  • Advise that the 31 October was the well-publicised deadline for paper returns to have been filed, and for customers who wanted HMRC to work their tax for them in time to be told how much to pay by 31 January
  • Advise that if the paper return is filed late, an automatic late filing penalty may be charged
  • Advise of the benefits of online filing
  • Explain the four customer options open to the taxpayer

Special needs

If a customer is effectively incapable of completing the self calculation, and asks you to complete it for him / her, you should do so. This will usually arise only where similar help has been needed with completion of the return.

People with special needs include those who

  • Are blind or partially sighted
  • Have physical disabilities which prevent them from writing easily, for example arthritis
  • Have learning difficulties
  • Have difficulties with reading and writing
  • Do not speak or read English easily

You will need to use your discretion to decide whether individual customers are unable to complete forms themselves. But it is not necessary to ask for proof. If you are in doubt, tactfully seek your Manager’s or a colleague’s advice.

You must also remember to advise customers that if the paper return is filed after 31 October, an automatic late filing penalty may be charged.

Query about amount payable on 31 January

Customers who file returns after 31 October and whose return is not processed by early December will be sent a reminder in December. The reminder, a form SA309A or SA309C for individuals or trusts, includes a blank payslip and will advise that a payment is due on 31 January. This may prompt those who have not completed the calculation to ask how much to pay. In response to such requests advise that

  • We will calculate their bill in due course. But, because their return was received after the deadline for paper returns and for Revenue Calculation on 31 October, we may not be able to do so until after 31 January

And, if they wish to avoid interest and penalties

  • They will have to self-calculate. Some customers may decide on the basis of this advice to tackle the self calculation. If so, you may have to photocopy the return for them if they have not kept a copy of it. The SA Tax Calculator can be used to check a self calculating customer’s liability but as the accuracy of the figures cannot be checked at this stage there is a disclaimer which should be read out before proceeding

Those customers who prefer to leave the calculation to HMRC may ask for advice on what first payment on account to make by 31 January. If so, advise

  • Self employed customers to make a payment based on whatever they paid last year, adjusted to the extent that they estimate their profits have increased or decreased
  • PAYE customers to pay 20 per cent of any untaxed income

In either case stress this is only a rough estimate and will not necessarily be correct and that, in future, the best way to be sure of the correct figure in time is to get their return in by 31 October if they want us to calculate their tax bill.