Tax Corner: Time is running out to file your paper tax return

The official self-assessment deadline for filing your tax return for the tax year ending April 5 2021 is January 31 2022.
Feargal McCormack

QUESTION: I need to fill in a self-assessment tax return for the 2020-21 tax year. When is the deadline to file it? I thought it was January but a friend told me I had until October 31. I am now confused when the deadline is. Can you explain when it is and what is the deadline for paying any tax owed?

ANSWER: The official self-assessment deadline for filing your tax return for the tax year ending April 5 2021 (and for paying any money due) is midnight on January 31 2022.

There are two key dates in October that anyone needing to file a tax return has to consider:

• October 31: if you want to file a paper tax return this is the deadline. However, most people find it is easier to register for self-assessment and file a tax return online. It’s worth noting that the government is phasing out paper returns altogether under its Making Tax Digital strategy, so keep an eye on the HMRC website for any updates.

• October 5: a date most people don’t know about, but if you have never completed or registered for a self-assessment form, this is the deadline for telling the taxman that you need to file one for the year to the previous April 5.

The October deadline for filing paper tax returns covering the 2020/21 tax year is fast approaching and taxpayers need to make sure they submit their returns by October 31 or risk late filing penalties.

If you are submitting a paper tax return to HMRC for 2020/21 you should complete it and submit it to HMRC by October 31 2021. And if you still have an outstanding return for 2019/20 which you wish to submit on paper, again you must do so before October 31 in order to avoid triggering further late filing penalties for the return being more than 12 months late.

If you intend to submit a paper return for 2020/21 and do not do so by October 31 2021 you still have the option of submitting an electronic return by 31 January 2022 to avoid late filing penalties.

However, if a tax return for 2019/20 is submitted after October 31 2021 in paper form rather than electronically then the maximum automatic late filing penalties of at least £1,600 (or £1,000 plus 10% of the tax due if greater) will eventually be charged.

You may have missed the tax return deadline due to an unforeseeable event. This would be classed as ‘reasonable excuse’ and grounds to appeal a penalty charge. If the appeal is successful then the penalties will be cancelled.

If you have not submitted your tax return because you are unable or cannot afford to pay any tax due, then be aware that HMRC regard submitting a return and paying the tax due as two separate and distinct obligations.

Penalties will continue to build up if you do not submit the return and you will not be able to arrange a debt payment plan with HMRC while the return is outstanding.

HMRC has also reminded taxpayers recently that they will need to declare whether or not they have received any grants or payments from Government support schemes during the pandemic, with money from these taxable.

These grants need to be recorded on the relevant tax return for 2020/21.

Feargal McCormack ( is managing director of PKF-FPM Accountants ( The advice in this column is specific to the facts surrounding the question posed. Neither the Irish News nor the contributors accept any liability for any direct or indirect loss arising from any reliance placed on replies.

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