The deadline for filing self assessment tax returns is quickly approaching as people will need to have filed them by midnight on 31 January.
A surprising amount of people continue to leave the issue until the last possible minute. This can often cause genuine problems in terms of the filing process, not to mention stretching your nerves if you find yourself needing to rush through it.
The process largely consists of notifying HM Revenue and Customs and of paying any tax that is owed for the 2012/13 financial year.
However, with several weeks to go until the deadline, only around 60% of those who need to file had done so.
More than ten million people are due to file returns, but there are still more than four million people who need to file before the deadline to escape fines.
Managing finances carefully
Even if a person does not owe any tax, missing the deadline can result in a £100 penalty while if the process is still not completed in several months, the potential fines could run to £1,600. This underlines that it really does pay to be as organised as possible in relation to the issue of tax.
Being organised when it comes to finance can also help to prevent unnecessary stress and one way to carefully manage what is spent is via a prepaid card.
Having limits on what can be spent means overpayment does not occur, while many cards can provide additional security on transactions.
The only option left for those still to file their returns is online, as it is too late to file a paper return, and that requires registering and receiving an activation code by post, which could take several days.
HMRC has said that registering by 21 January should enable people to meet the deadline while any time after that would be seen as taking a considerable risk.
Options to consider
Filing for self assessment requires a unique tax reference and that would need to be requested, although it cannot be given out over the phone so it could take a few days to be delivered by post.
When online, it is important to reach a stage where user-IDs and passwords are re-entered as only at this stage is the return submitted.
Changes to the child benefit rulings must also be considered for the first time on this return, although guidelines are available online for what is required.
Having the documentation checked prior to submitting it is also recommended as it reduces the chances of any mistakes which could cause problems in the long term.
Expert Comment: It is interesting to note that prepaid cards are being used as a piggy bank by some, to put away a small amount each month, to help pay the self assessment tax bill. I have always maintained that you can’t really tell consumers what to do with a prepaid card; they’ll automatically find the best way to use it and fit it into their lifestyle and requirements. I cannot see any marketing director or strategic planner having specifically planned for this; I certainly had not!- Amit Sharma
Amit Sharma is the CEO and Founder of www.prepaid365.com and a senior prepaid industry consultant. You can follow him on LinkedIn.