HMRC notices change in habits as thousands more submit tax returns early
30 May 2024

The trend of sending Self Assessment tax returns at the last minute every January is gradually changing in the UK with thousands more people choosing to file early.  

HMRC is reporting a new trend with figures from the last tax year showing 194,000 people decided to send their returns between April and September 2023. 
This is a seven per cent increase in tax returns submitted compared to the same period in 2022.  

Taxpayers could submit Self Assessment tax return forms for the 2023/24 tax year from as early as 6 April 2024, the first day of the new tax year.   

HMRC has also revealed that the number of customers who choose to file their tax return on the first day of the tax year alone has more than doubled since 2018. 

Last year, more than 77,500 people submitted their tax returns on 6 April 2023, and that number is expected to have been even higher this year. 

Thousands of people have been taking advantage of the financial benefits of submitting their returns at the first opportunity. 

Here are the benefits to filing tax returns early: 

  • Peace of mind 

Some people file early for their peace of mind and to avoid the stress of last-minute filing. 

  • Know what you owe 

Filing early means you will know what you owe. This means you can plan your budgeting for the year and pay your tax bill in instalments if you need to – you can also get help if you find you can’t pay.  

  • Get refunded quicker 

You can find out sooner if you’ve paid too much tax during 2023-2024 and are owed a refund. HMRC will let you know as soon as your tax return has been processed and arrange for any overpayment to be refunded sooner too.  

  • Receive the support you need 

You can use our digital services to do what you need to do quickly and easily online, a service rated highly for customer satisfaction. Our helpline and webchat advisers provide support for customers who need specific extra help.  

  • Proof of income 

Filing early provides proof of income which you’ll need for a mortgage, loan, or to claim benefits.  

  • Plan ahead 

Choosing to file your tax return early does not mean you have to pay HMRC any money early. The 31 January deadline for payment remains unchanged. If you choose to pay your tax bill earlier for your own convenience, that’s fine, but it’s entirely up to you. When you file early, you get to know what your tax bill is going to be, which can help you plan.    

  • Budget plan   

HMRC offers a Budget Payment Plan facility. Customers can choose how much and how often they want to pay by Direct Debit – putting you in full control of managing your bill.  

  • Your payment options 

Filing early will mean you have more time to investigate your payment options if you’re unable to pay in full by the deadline. HMRC is keen to help customers explore these options, which may include paying your tax bill in instalments through a Time to Pay arrangement; many customers can set this up online. Find out more: If you cannot pay your tax bill on time: Pay what you owe in instalments (Time to Pay) - GOV.UK (  

  • Pay via your tax code 

The deadline to file your completed 2023 to 2024 tax return online and pay any tax you owe is 31 January 2025. Filing before the end of December means you may have the option, if eligible, of paying anything owed through your PAYE tax code. 

The easiest way to complete your tax return is online, via HMRC online services. More than 97 percent of people do this. Doing it online is quick and secure: File your Self Assessment Tax Return online 

Find out more about setting up your HMRC online services. Do not share your HMRC online username and password with anyone else.   

You can manage your tax affairs easily using HMRC online services. Here are activities you can complete online: 

  • Submit or amend your tax return 

  • Pay your tax bill 

  • See your account balance, upcoming balance, payments, credits and print your tax calculation 

  • Claim a tax refund 

  • Check your details – including your Unique Taxpayer Reference, employment and income history 

  • Report a change of address or name 

  • Set up a Time To Pay arrangement  

  • Set up Budget Payment Plan 

  • View previous tax returns 

  • Appeal a Self-Assessment penalty 

  • Tell us why you think you no longer need to complete a tax return. 

You can appoint a relative, friend or an accredited accountant to complete and send your tax return to HMRC on your behalf.  If you decide this is the best option for you, you will need to notify HMRC. Find out:  how to get help with Self Assessment Tax Returns 

If you think you no longer need to send a self-assessment tax return, contact HMRC. You could incur late-filing penalties if you fail to do so. Find out more here: Stopping Self Assessment - YouTube