Tax Advice

Christmas is all wrapped up - now it's time to unwrap your tax return

05 Jan 2016

The festive season is over, the New Year fireworks have long since faded, so now it’s time for small business directors and sole traders to turn to the serious January business of the dreaded self-assessment tax return.

Sole traders, the self-employed, company directors and anyone earning extra income over and above a full-time salary needs to complete a self-assessment tax return by 31st January, detailing their income during the 2014/15 tax year.

Self Assessment Tax ReturnHMRC can issue fines of £100 if returns are up to three months late, or more for longer delays.

There are few acceptable excuses for late filing or non-payment. HMRC won’t accept if you say the return was too difficult, or if you didn’t get a reminder.

Here are some of the (many) excuses HMRC has rejected during appeals against fines:

  • My pet dog ate my tax return…and all the reminders.
  • I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a postbox or get an internet signal.
  • I fell in with the wrong crowd.
  • I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency.
  • Barack Obama is in charge of my finances.
  • I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.
  • A work colleague borrowed my tax return, to photocopy it, and didn’t give it back.
  • I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park.
  • My girlfriend’s pregnant.
  • I was in Australia.

Keir Wright-Whyte


Managing Director

0207 043 4000

About the author

Originally graduating with a degree in geography from Edinburgh University, Keir claims that he was then tricked into becoming an accountant by one of the UK's top 5 accountancy practices.The deception extended to the usual training in audit and associated activities.

Keir subsequently worked in a number of advisory roles with clients including in the energy trading, pharmaceuticals and financial services sectors.

He loves working at Accounts & Legal because of the variety of work and clients, the excellent team ethos and morale, the importance placed on genuinely helping and being useful for clients and because he believes what he does matters to clients and helps the firm.

Keir's primary role is to ensure that new clients with complex businesses or needs are on-boarded in the best way and he is a "trouble shooter" both for clients and where complex issues arise internally. He also helps the accounting teams strive to improve what we do for clients, whether processes or services.

When not debiting or crediting, Keir has a penchant for fixing old buildings, skiing, surfing and cycling.


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