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What is the difference between online tax return and paper tax return?

Updated: Dec 8, 2023


woman doing work on the difference between online tax return and paper

Interested in discovering the difference between online tax return and paper?


You've landed in the right spot to explore the contrast between an online tax return and the traditional paper-based method. Let's explore these distinctions, going beyond the easily noticeable differences.


Understanding Tax Returns:


A tax return is a formal document submitted to HMRC (Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs) that provides a detailed account of your income, expenses, and pertinent financial information for a specific tax year. Individuals typically employ a method known as self-assessment to complete their personal tax returns.


Why File a Tax Return?


Filing a tax return is necessary for various reasons, including:


1. Fulfilling tax obligations on your pension income.

2. Reporting and paying tax on savings interest.

3. Repaying child benefit overpayments.

4. Reporting and paying tax on income beyond your regular salary.

5. Claiming a tax refund.

6. Earning an income exceeding £100,000.

7. Seeking tax relief.


So, What's a Paper Tax Return?


A paper tax return, as the name implies, is a physical, paper-based tax return form. The difference between online tax return and paper becomes apparent in the process. Notably, the deadline for filing a paper return is October 31st, which is earlier than the online return deadline. This means you must ensure that all forms are completed and sent to HMRC as promptly as possible, accounting for postal delivery time.


The primary tax return form is the SA100, the main self-assessment form. Depending on your circumstances, supplementary forms may be necessary. Identifying the applicable forms is crucial to avoid complications.


If specific forms pertain to your situation, attach them to your SA100 and send the complete package to HMRC. Unfortunately, HMRC does not provide confirmation upon receiving your paper self-assessment. It's advisable to use tracked delivery to ensure receipt. Additionally, keep in mind that late filing fees for paper returns come into effect starting November 1st, further highlighting the Difference between online tax return and paper.


Exploring Online Returns:


An online return is essentially a self-assessment tax return submitted electronically, eliminating the need for physical paperwork. It mirrors the paper return in terms of content but leverages digital submission to HMRC.


To register for an online return, you must:


1. Register through the HMRC website.

2. Receive your UTR (Unique Taxpayer Reference) number, sent to you by post.

3. Obtain your activation code, also dispatched via post.

4. Activate your online account.


Once your account is activated, you can begin filling out your online return instead of managing various physical forms, you'll need your P60 and records of income and expenses. Depending on your circumstances, you may also require additional documents like student loan statements or business account information.


Here's the process after gathering all your documents:


1. Enter your personal details.

2. Complete only the relevant sections, skipping those that do not apply to you.

3. Review and submit your return.


Upon submission, you'll receive immediate confirmation along with an on-screen code, which should be saved. Keep all relevant documents organised and accessible for future reference. The deadline for online tax returns is January 31st, again illustrating the Difference between online tax return and paper.


You can handle this process independently at no cost. However, you might consider an alternative option, such as having your tax return expertly prepared by Accountax Point Company. Our team of experienced accountants specialises in self-assessment tax returns, ensuring accurate financial reporting, deduction maximisation, and compliance maintenance.


Ready to simplify the difference between online tax return and paper tax return? Contact us today at 01293 307084 or drop us an email at admin@accountaxpoint.com. Let Accountax Point help you navigate your tax return with ease and expertise!



This guide is for illustrative purposes only Accountax can only advise on Taxation matters, through the appropriate protocols. Full Terms and Conditions available on request.

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