Tax return online filing – watch out for scams
With the 31st January deadline fast approaching, filing a tax return may not be far away in your thoughts. In fact, on Christmas Day last year 1,556 people filed their tax return online. Should the festive TV listings not take your fancy and you are minded instead to log on and submit your tax return through the Government Gateway, make sure you are using the official and free HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) service.
The importance of making sure you are using the official HMRC service may seem obvious, but last year countless taxpayers were stung by a commercial self-assessment tax website which charged anything up to £1,000 – essentially for forwarding a tax return to HMRC. Any tax liability had to be paid on top of this service fee.
The problem was that taxpayers mistook the unofficial site for the official HMRC site because it used similar colours and key words and came at the top of the online searches.
While HMRC do take action against firms who promote themselves in inappropriate ways, often they are not actually breaking the law unless they are misusing HMRC’s logo. This means that similar sites will no doubt appear this year – indeed we have spotted one already that seems to propose a charge of £500 for a review and submission service. This fee is, in our view, much too high for the service that is being offered (although we note it does state, albeit in small print, on their website that taxpayers can file their return for free directly via the Government).
How do I file my tax return for free?
If you want to file a tax return for free, go directly to the official HMRC website via GOV.UK: www.gov.uk/hmrc. Avoid using search engines, as these may return different results which confuse official sites with others.
Please note that anyone trying to access the old HMRC website will now automatically be redirected to the HMRC page on GOV.UK. This is because there is now a single website for all government information, which is also the place from which to access government online services.
If you have filed a self-assessment return before, you can use the same log-in details to complete your 2013/14 form before the 31 January deadline. However, this year, you may notice that the look and feel of your online account has changed. Do not worry, you are not in the wrong place – the Government are trialing a new style which supposedly will make it easier for you to see what you owe and to make a payment.
If you have not got any existing log-in details, you need to leave plenty of time to register and have these sent through before the 31 January deadline. GOV.UK tells you how tosign up for an online account .