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


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 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 per cent 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:


  1. Submit or amend your tax return
  2. Pay your tax bill
  3. See your account balance, upcoming balance, payments, credits and print your tax calculation
  4. Claim a tax refund
  5. Check your details – including your Unique Taxpayer Reference, employment and income history
  6. Report a change of address or name
  7. Set up a time to pay arrangement
  8. Set up Budget Payment plan
  9. View previous tax returns
  10. Appeal a Self-Assessment penalty
  11. 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

Pensioners guide to Self Assessment 

What is Self Assessment?


Self Assessment is the process used to declare and pay tax owed on untaxed income.


If you are employed, your employer will deduct tax owed before they pay you – known as PAYE or ‘pay as you earn’.


If you are self-employed, earn additional untaxed income or don’t have an employer deducting tax, you may need to do a tax return.


If you’re working for yourself, by registering as self-employed for Self Assessment you can access contributory benefits or the state pension.


Why people claiming state pension might also need to send a tax return?


State pension is classed as taxable income.


You only need to pay tax on the income you have earned which exceeds your personal allowance: £12,570.


If you are receiving the increased full state pension of £11,502 and this is your only income, you aren’t expected to complete a Self Assessment tax return because it is within your personal allowance.


If you receive the state pension and receive additional income from private pensions, investments, savings interest or earnings which takes your total annual taxable income above your personal allowance and any other allowances, you may need to pay tax.


If you complete a Self Assessment return you should use this for reporting and paying any additional earnings, pension income, interest on your savings, dividend income and non-property related capital gains tax.


If you do not currently complete a Self Assessment return then you will need to register for Self Assessment for reporting any capital gains tax (if you’re eligible you may be able to use the ‘real time’ Capital Gains Tax Service), dividend income over £10,000 and savings interest over £10,000.


If you have dividend income up to £10,000, you’ll need to contact HMRC and, if you have a PAYE tax code, you can ask for your tax code to be changed.

For other forms of taxable income, including state pension, HMRC will write to you with details of how we will collect the tax. If you have a PAYE tax code from a private pension or employment, HMRC will be able to deduct the tax due automatically. If you do not have a PAYE tax code, then HMRC will inform you of how much tax you have to pay and how to pay it – a process known as simple assessment. Check your Simple Assessment tax bill – GOV.UK (


How can I register for Self-Assessment?


To complete Self Assessment, you must register via GOV.UK.


If you’ve not used HMRC’s online service before, you’ll need two forms of evidence to prove your identity. This can include your UK passport and UK driving licence.


Once you have registered, HMRC will send you your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) which you will need when you complete your Self Assessment.


What information will I need before I start my tax return?


You will need your UTR and National Insurance number, your income, earnings and other financial records.


When is the deadline? 


The Self Assessment deadline for the 2023 to 2024 tax year is 31 January 2025.


You must file your tax return and pay any tax owed by the deadline.


If you miss it, you may incur penalties.


You don’t have to wait until the deadline, submit your Self Assessment tax return for the 2023/24 tax year and pay anytime from 6 April 2024.


How do I submit my tax return and how do I pay? 


You can do it online at GOV.UK. You can save your progress and fill it in at a time that suits you ahead of the deadline.


The quickest and easiest way to pay your Self Assessment is via the HMRC app. This YouTube video explains how you can use the app to make a payment through online banking or your bank’s own app.


You can make a payment any time, for any amount, but you must pay what you owe by the deadline to avoid interest and penalties.


Remember to include your bank account details on your tax return so that we can repay you quickly and securely if you are owed a refund. If you can’t pay in full, HMRC will work with you to find an affordable way for you to pay the tax you owe.


What help is available?


It is important to make sure the information you provide on your tax return is accurate and HMRC wants to help taxpayers to get it right first time. There is online resources and guidance to help you with your tax return on GOV.UK.


There is guidance on filling in your tax return: About this guidance – Guidance – GOV.UK (


HMRC’s online services offer quick and easy ways to manage your tax affairs. Its helpline and webchat advisers support those who are vulnerable, people who do not have access to the internet and those with complex tax affairs.