LITRG issues reminder of tax allowances ahead of paper tax return deadline

The Low Incomes Tax Reform Group (LITRG) is reminding people that there is just a week to go before the 31 October 2019 deadline to file paper tax return forms.

LITRG is particularly concerned that people may not be aware of the trading and property allowances. Both of these allowances were introduced in the 2017/18 tax year and individuals can use one or both of them to receive up to £1,000 in tax-free allowances for property and/or trading, casual or miscellaneous income each year, subject to certain conditions.

You should contact HMRC to say you do not need to complete a tax return if you have qualifying income covered fully by these allowances and there is no other reason to complete a Self Assessment tax return.1

Victoria Todd, Head of LITRG Team, said:

“Completing your tax return can be a daunting exercise. If you have low levels of income from self-employment, casual earnings or renting property, then we recommend you check whether you actually need to complete a tax return if this income is covered fully by the trading and property allowances.2 If you are uncertain whether you need to complete a return or know you no longer need to, you must contact HMRC3 and explain why this may be the case. HMRC should then confirm in writing that you are no longer required to submit a return.

“It is important that you keep a record of all income and expenses related to these trading and property activities so you are aware of whether this income is fully covered by the allowances. For example, if you did not complete a tax return for 2017/18 because your earnings fell within the trading and /or property allowances, but in the 2018/19 tax year your earnings are above either of the allowances, you must submit a tax return on time to avoid late filing penalties even if there is no income tax or National Insurance to pay."

People who want to submit a paper tax return to HMRC for 2018/19 should do so by 31 October 2019. If a paper tax return is submitted after this date in paper form rather than online then a £100 penalty will automatically be charged, with penalties potentially rising up to £1,600 depending on the length of the delay. This penalty can be avoided by submitting an online return instead of a paper return by 31 January 2020.

LITRG is warning people to allow at least 10 working days before 31 January 2020 to complete and send their online tax return to HMRC if they are using self-assessment online for the first time. This is because they will need to enrol into and ‘activate’ HMRC’s online self-assessment service first using a code they will be sent in the post. Up to 20 days may be needed if the person does not have a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number already.

Victoria Todd said:

“If you do not think you will make the 31 October 2019 deadline it is best not to submit a paper return late as you will get a penalty but, if possible, to register for HMRC online services and so file by 31 January 2020 instead.”

A total of 10,833,177 tax returns were received by HMRC by 31 January 2019. Of these, 10,129,234 returns were filed online and the rest were paper filed.4

Notes for editors

1. To be in self assessment an individual should have requested a Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and received a notice to submit a tax return from HMRC.

2. There is information on the trading allowance and the property allowances on the LITRG website here.

3. Link for contact details for HMRC here.

4. HMRC press release dated February 2019, see here.

.5. Low Incomes Tax Reform Group

The LITRG is an initiative of the Chartered Institute of Taxation (CIOT) to give a voice to the unrepresented. Since 1998 LITRG has been working to improve the policy and processes of the tax, tax credits and associated welfare systems for the benefit of those on low incomes.


The CIOT is the leading professional body in the United Kingdom concerned solely with taxation. The CIOT is an educational charity, promoting education and study of the administration and practice of taxation. One of our key aims is to work for a better, more efficient, tax system for all affected by it – taxpayers, their advisers and the authorities. The CIOT’s work covers all aspects of taxation, including direct and indirect taxes and duties. The CIOT’s 18,000 members have the practising title of ‘Chartered Tax Adviser’ and the designatory letters ‘CTA’, to represent the leading tax qualification.

Contact: Hamant Verma, External Relations Officer, 0207 340 2702

Out of hours contact: George Crozier, 07740 477 374)