Guide to online tax returns

The deadline for online self-assessment tax returns is looming. Anyone who fails to meet it will receive a £100 fine plus interest if payments are still outstanding. Read our last-minute guide to avoid penalties.


The deadline for online self-assessment tax returns is looming. Anyone who fails to meet it will receive a £100 fine plus interest if payments are still outstanding. Read our last-minute guide to avoid penalties.

The deadline for online self-assessment tax returns is looming. Anyone who fails to meet it will receive a £100 fine plus interest if payments are still outstanding. Read our last-minute guide to avoid penalties.

From now until the end of January the HMRC’s website will become increasingly busy with people trying to meet the deadline. In previous years it has been known to crash. Here are the steps you need to take to beat the automatic penalties by registering now.

You’ll need to start by setting yourself up as an online user. This is a two-stage process where you register for online government services and at the same time enroll for at least one service, such as self assessment online. You will then obtain a user ID at the Government Gateway website.

Secondly, you’ll need to activate your account using a code, which is sent to your home address and usually takes up to seven working days.

Information needed to register

Make sure you have the following information to hand:

• your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number
• either your postcode or National Insurance number

You’ll find your UTR on correspondence from HMRC or you can contact your tax office and ask for it – it can only be sent in the post to your home address.

If you’re new to self-assessment, your UTR will be on your welcome letter.

Registering as a new user

The HMRC website asks you to follow the various links and answer some basic questions such as the type of account you need – individual (personal or self-employed), organisation (partnerships) or agent (if you’re acting for a client). You will be shown your unique User ID on screen.

Once you’ve completed this registration process, your activation code and user ID will be sent to you separately within seven days.

Activating your account

When you have both your user ID and activation code, you’ll need to log in.

From here, follow the instructions to activate Self Assessment Online. You must do this within 28 days. After this time your activation code will no longer be valid. It is advisable to destroy the code once you’ve activated the service.

Lost user ID or password

If you can’t find your ID or your password and you’re already registered for HMRC Online Services, go to the online services login page (see link below), and follow the ‘lost user ID’ or ‘lost password’ link under the heading ‘existing users’.

For security purposes you’ll need to answer a number of questions before a replacement user ID or password is issued. You will be sent it either online, if you have a government account email address, or by first class post to the address held on record.

Online services helpdesk

If you have problems registering or enrolling, you can contact the HMRC dedicated online services helpdesk. The telephone number is: 0845 60 55 999.

For further information go to the HMRC website.

Related Topics

Tax & Vat

Leave a comment