Most tax and VAT returns now have to be submitted electronically, so if the return is late, even by a minute, the computer spits out a fine. This also applies to filing accounts and annual returns for companies or LLPs at Companies House.
Filing a tax return or submitting accounts online can be quicker, as there is no delay caused by sending a paper document in the post. Your client may also be given a longer period to file online, - an extra 7 days for VAT returns and an extra 3 months for personal tax returns. However, you will need software to file online, and this may not be freely available or the free version may not work for your particular circumstances.
For example, partnerships must submit a partnership tax return in addition to the personal tax returns for each partner. The partners' tax returns can be submitted online using the HMRC free software, but the partnership tax return cannot.
If your client is a member of a partnership (or LLP) you will need to either submit the partnership return in paper form by 31 October, or acquire some commercial software to use to submit the return online for your client.
Companies House Accounts
Private company accounts must be submitted to Companies House within 9 months of the company's year end. Say the company's year runs to 30 September 2011, the accounts must reach Companies House by midnight on 30 June 2012, even though this is a Sunday.
Companies House provides free software to submit company accounts online through its website, but this does not always work. If you leave filing your clients accounts to the last day, and the software, or your internet connection fails, your client will get a fine of £150.
All VAT returns for periods starting on or after 1 April 2012 must be filed online, and any VAT due must be paid electronically, not by a cheque.
Are you and your clients ready for this change?