When can I file my 2018 tax return? Self-assessment tax deadline, how to submit online and what happens if it's late

To take some of the strain out of filling out your returns we've put together this handy guide.

When is the self-assessment tax deadline?

There are a number of important tax-related deadlines in the UK each financial and calendar year.

The deadlines can also change depending on how you submit your financial forms.

October 31, 2018, is the deadline for filing a paper tax return but if you have missed this deadline you can still complete it in time by doing it online.

December 30, 2018, is the deadline if you file your tax return online and also have earnings which are liable to PAYE.

The big deadline is January 31, 2019, this is the final day for online tax returns.

Failure to meet HMRC deadlines can result in penalty fines or extra interest charges.

How do you know if you need to submit a tax return?

Most UK taxpayers have the money deducted from their pay packet – that is called PAYE.

But around 10million people need to complete a self-assessment tax return and send it to the tax office, or do it online.

People with the following status are obliged to complete the forms.

  • You are self-employed, a business partner, or director of a limited company
  • You're an employee or pensioner with an annual income of £100,000 or more
  • You have a pre-tax investment income of £10,000 or more
  • You are a minister of religion
  • You're a trustee or representative of someone who has died
  • You're a name at the "Lloyd's" of London insurance market

I don't even know where to start – how do I get the relevant forms?

Fortunately if you need to file a tax return the relevant paperwork will be sent to your address.

People with the following status are also usually required to fill in and return the forms.

  • You have untaxed income from investment, land or property, or from overseas
  • You make capital gains above the annual exempt amount (£11,100 for 2015-16)
  • You were required to fill in a tax return last year
  • You're a pensioner over 65 who gets reduced age-related allowance

If the forms come through my door what do I do next?

Those who receive the self-assessment tax return forms from HMRC have to return them by law.

This can be done by submitting a paperwork tax return by post or by submitting the forms online.

Paper tax returns

Individuals are required to give details of their income from various sources in this six-page form.

It's called a "self assessment tax return" because people have to fill it in themselves and return it to HMRC.

They then work out your tax liability to be calculated.

A self-assessment tax return form is called an SA100 and can be downloaded from the HMRC's website.

The address you send it to is on the form itself.

Online tax returns

The digital forms are very similar to the paper ones but the process has a handful of advantages.

The key benefit is that you have an extended deadline which allows you three extra months to return the forms.

Another advantage is that your tax is calculated automatically as you fill in the return, and you get paid faster if the HMRC owes you money.

You also receive instant confirmation that your return has been filed.

The online service is also personalised so that as you answers questions, certain sections are removed if they don't apply to you.

If you haven't submitted your forms online before then you need to register in advance.

To sign in or register visit the "Self Assessment tax return" section of HMRC's website. 

Will I get fined if I return them late, and how much?

If your tax return is between one day and three months late you will be usually be slapped with a £100 fine.

If it's later than that your penalty will be even greater but this can vary depending on just how late you are.

If you file your return more than three months late you can use a tool on the HMRC website to estimate how much your fine will be.

Can I appeal if I do get fined?

If your tax return forms are filed late you will receive a penalty letter.

Your appeal will only be successful if you what the HMRC class as a "reasonable excuse".

For a comprehensive guide on how to challenge your penalty take a look at our handy guide.

What if I've submitted my return but now I need to change it?

After you have filed your tax return you may need to alter it at some stage.

It can be updated within 12 months of the original deadline or you can write to HMRC for any changes after that.

How you update your tax return depends on how you filed it in the first place.

To change an online tax return log in in to your HMRC online account. 

For paper tax returns download a new tax return.

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