Don’t panic, here are some last-minute tips for SA filing for the 2008/09 tax year.

Not registered for online filing?

  • It takes 7 days for an activation PIN to come through after you have registered.
  • It is not possible to register and file for 2008/09 on time by 31 January 2010 after 23 January 2010.
  • To avoid a tax penalty see avoid a fine.

No UTR or no tax return as failed to register for tax on time?
Follow these steps:

Step 1: notify HMRC

  • If self-employed: complete form CWF!
  • In other cases: complete form SA1.

Step 2 : appoint agent (if you need one)

  • Complete form 64-8.
  • Send to CAAT.
  • A 64-8 cannot be completed without a UITR or NINO.
  • Fastracking 64-8s: there is a 24-hour turnover for 64-8s, but some agents are experiencing delays.

Step 3: avoid a fine

  • If you're unable to complete a tax return in time, but tax is due:
  • Send payment with form SA361 to HMRC.
  • Mark form “new taxpayer”.
  • Post to arrive by 31 January 2010.
  • This has to be done by post, as it is not possible to pay online without an UITR.

Not enough time to gather all the information to sign-off the return?

You can file a provisional return by using estimates. You must tick the box on the return to indicate that you have done so, otherwise you should not sign the return.

Correct the return at a later date when you have the information necessary. There should be no tax penalties providing you have paid the tax due on time. However if it later transpires that tax has been understated it may difficult to prove that the error was not as a result of carelessness. The enquiry window will be extended as a result of a later correction.

Late filing delays

  • If you can notify HMRC of the problem before 23 January 2010 it should be possible to avoid it issuing an automatic penalty notice.
  • Use HMRC's reasonable excuse form.

Problems with ISP/broadband

1. Log details of fault with ISP, as a far as is possible (it can be difficult to contact many providers*). Perform speed tests at regular intervals – see and keep acopy of the results at regular intervals (if possible) to prove problems.

2. Ring clients to inform them that you are having problems and advise that you will be contacting HMRC and no late filing penalties should arise as a result.

3. Ring HMRC’s agent helpline and report that you are having a major problem, log your call. If you have an Agent Account Manager, advise them.

4. File tax returns as soon as service returns to normal.

* Due to the fact that BT provides all phone lines, and the rules which apply as a consequence of this monopoly status we have a strange situation where some parts of BT are not permitted to talk to others. The chances are that your ISP will not be permitted to either, it must itself go via another provider. The result is that it may be very difficult for you to prove that you have a fault (and even harder to get anyone to do anything about it). BT does not publicise details of local problems in any event. Your ISP will not be able to get much sense out of BT, as it cannot deal directly with BT. Faults get corrected, eventually. In the event of a penalty for late filing a speed test result will provide evidence of your problems.

Geek time...

Speed testing
: determining download/upload speeds.

Download speeds:
expect these to be at least 3.00 Mbps (most ISPs give you 5.00 or higher)

Upload speeds: expect these to be at least 0.30 or higher (i.e. around 10% of download speeds. When these are 0.10 to 0.15 Mbps (or lower) e-filing is virtually impossible (trust us, we have been trying all week).

Small print and links:

guidance note for agents for 31 January 2010