Common Tax Return Mistakes To Avoid

[p-lead]Have you heard the adverts on the radio reminding people of the tax return deadline? If not, we hope you’ve either already submitted yours or you’re reading this post![/p-lead]

There are roughly 11.2 million people who need to file a tax return for the money they earned during the 2013/14 tax year. Before midnight 31 January. And although there were a record number of submissions on Christmas day last year, we’re sure there are still a lot of you out there who haven’t done it.

The good news is that, if you haven’t sent yours off digitally, then you won’t have made any of the most common tax return mistakes.

The consequences of making the following errors on your form range from mere delays to substantial fines. So pay attention to these five mistakes and you should *fingers crossed* be okay:


1. Fill in all the pages you need to. It sounds simple enough  but the complexity of the forms can make even this task troublesome. Not including PAYE information crops up time and again. HMRC claims it has made things clearer this year but you have been warned!

2. Filling in the form but forgetting to click “submit”. You might well laugh but we’ve heard of people falling at this final hurdle. Failure to submit on time can result in a fine of £100 or more, so ensure you’ve actually submitted everything you need to.

3. The third most commonly-made mistake is in the  “Pensions Box”. On your tax return you must provide details of your pension provider (assuming you have one!). You cannot use punctuation or hit the return key in this box. However people often use punctuation or hit “enter”. If this happens you will probably get an error message which means contacting HMRC and the wait for the tax helplines is notoriously long.

4. Another simple mistake: the owed tax you calculate does not correlate with the figures you give in your self-assessment form. You’ll need to go over the numbers several times if necessary to make sure there are no discrepancies.

5. Avoid so-called special characters such as #,’ and “, which are not permitted in the online boxes. Unless you’re planning on quoting someone or hashtagging your return you should be fine.


To encourage people to get their returns in on time, HMRC has a series of increasingly large fines for those who miss the deadline. Read our post on tax return fines for more details.

Last year, reasons for late tax returns included the following gems: “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”, and “Barack Obama is in charge of my finances”. Somewhat surprisingly none of these were accepted by HMRC.

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