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Missed the tax return deadline? Ask the experts

PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 February 2010 | UPDATED: 08:02 02 July 2010

James Banham, partner at Banham Graham Accountants. Photo: Antony Kelly

James Banham, partner at Banham Graham Accountants. Photo: Antony Kelly

Filing late tax returns as soon as possible could still save you money, says accountant James Banham.

Ask the Experts

Are you running a business and need advice on a tricky issue? Or are you thinking of becoming your own boss but not sure if it's for you? Then the Evening News Panel of Experts is here to help.

The panel - all experts in their fields - can answer questions ranging from problems with tax returns and affordable IT to general business advice, the benefits of green practices and how to deal with the emotions of going it alone.

The panellists are Richard Salmon, business advisor at enterprise agency NWES, James Banham, partner at Banham Graham chartered accountants and business advisors, Anne Francis, west Norwich business coach at BizFizz, Zaour Israfilof of environmental consultancy 3 Carbon Elements and Leum Dunn, who runs his own IT company, Get IT Dunn.

t Do you have a question for the panel? Email Evening News senior business writer Sam Williams at sam.williams@archant.co.uk.

The accountant - James Banham, partner at Banham Graham

I missed the January 31 tax deadline - what happens now?

The first and most important thing to do is to file your tax return and pay your tax as soon as possible.

Even if you think you don't owe any tax - and you won't know for sure until you fill in the tax return - if HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have requested a tax return you must submit one.

If you don't, you will be issued with a late filing penalty and charged interest on the tax you owe up until its payment.

The standard late filing penalty is £100 - and for a partnership tax return that's £100 for each partner, which could get pretty expensive.

Interestingly, according to HMRC rules for individuals for 2008/09, if you owe less than £100 the penalty may be reduced. But don't be fooled into thinking that you won't still need to file a return!

Your tax return is HMRC's way of confirming how much you owe in tax for the year. If they don't receive it they may issue a 'determination', which is basically a demand for the tax that they estimate you may owe.

This will of course normally be more than your actual liability, but HMRC won't know that until you file the return. I can't stress enough how important it is to submit it, the sooner the better!

Sometimes there are good reasons for not filing your return, and HMRC will reconsider issuing the late filing penalty if you have a reasonable excuse.

If you plan to make a claim, it would be wise to contact your local tax office before you receive the penalty notice. According to HMRC, reasonable excuses include:

·Documents being lost through theft, fire or flood that you can't replace in time

·Life-threatening illness that prevents you dealing with your tax affairs

·Issues with the online filing service where no work-round was available

There are a few others mentioned on the website www.hmrc.gov.uk, which I highly recommend you visit if you are considering making a claim or indeed if you have any queries about tax.

So, a short answer to your question: file that tax return now!

Banham Graham chartered accountants and business advisors specialise in working with small and medium businesses.

For more information visit www.banhamgraham.co.uk.

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