If your client is required to complete a Self Assessment tax return, there’s a possibility they may be already submitting (or would prefer to) via paper submission.
Paper submissions, as opposed to digital, must be completed by 31st October every tax year. The relevant form (SA100) can be downloaded from the HMRC site along with any additional sections that you may need to fill out. Once completed, all that’s left to do is post it.
However, for bookkeepers struggling to support clients caught in the no man’s land between offline and online submissions, Mike Parkes from GoSimpleTax has provided the best way to tackle the Self Assessment paper return.
Explain the differences between the two
Aside from the format, offline submissions are most notably different in their submission date. As opposed to 31st January, paper submissions must be completed three months prior.
In addition, penalties for paper submissions will begin three months before those who submit online too. Late paper submission fines begin on the 1st November, whereas late online submission fines won’t take place until the following 1st February.
It’s also easier to recognise when you have submitted an online return as HMRC will give the user immediate acknowledgement following receipt of their documentation. A client’s only option with paper returns, on the other hand, is to send the Self Assessment tax return via recorded delivery or obtain proof of posting.
Check for the required supplementary pages
As you will know, depending on your client’s operation or how they receive income, they will be required to fill in extra sections of their Self Assessment, otherwise known as ‘supplementary pages’.
Clients will be penalised for not completing any relevant pages, so it’s important to check the full list of extra sections in case their circumstances have changed and they’re missing one.
The most relevant pages to clients who file paper returns include:
- Self-employment – Split into two separate forms, the self-employment supplementary page will either be SA103S or SA103F. The former being for those whose annual turnover was below the VAT threshold (£85,000 as of 2019/20) and the latter for those above.
- UK property income – If your client is a landlord and receives income from tenants, they’ll be required to file an SA105 form alongside their Self Assessment tax return.
- Business partnerships – Similarly to those who are self-employed, there are two forms for business partnerships. One form is used to record a full partnership (SA104F), whereas the other is used to record a short version of partnership income (SA104S).
This list isn’t exhaustive; however, it demonstrates the scale of the paperwork necessary to compliantly document your clients’ finances.
Remind them there’s still time to submit online
If your client has missed the paper deadline or is struggling to get their records and receipts in order ahead of the 31st October, there’s still the option of registering online. While they will need to register in advance to use the online system, once they’ve received their 10-digit Unique Taxpayer Reference number and activated their account, they’re able to file.
After activation, you or your client will be able to check their account details to monitor deadlines, make amendments or even adjust payments on account. In general, it’s a more accessible option for clients struggling to manage a paper submission.
While it’s not your role to force them to transition from offline to digital, it’s important you convey the benefits of doing so – including the later deadline, greater convenience and security, and preparation for Making Tax Digital. Furthermore, by helping them to understand that an electronic submission can be saved or printed for their own records, they may be more inclined to revisit their decision.
Bookkeepers should always accommodate a client’s preferred means of operating. That being said, if it’s apparent that a client will be penalised as a result of their method, or is missing out on opportunities to reduce their tax liability, you have a responsibility to present an alternative.
GoSimpleTax support Bookkeepers working tirelessly to improve their clients’ processes. With us, you’re able to offer clients an unrivalled experience – an effortless Self Assessment tax return.
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