If you are enrolled for self assessment, then you will need to make a self assessment tax payment each year. The deadlines for paying your self assessment tax payment are the 31st January (for tax owed from the previous year), and the 31st July, for the second payment on your account.
If you do not want to do a single payment on account in January, and another in July, then you can arrange to make a self assessment tax payment using a regular budget payment plan.
You can pay your tax online if you wish – many people find this easier than paying over the counter. It is important that you make your payment by the deadline, otherwise you could end up being charged interest – and there are penalty fees for late payments as well, with the penalty increasing the later the payment is.
There are many ways to pay. If you pay online or by telephone banking then the payment should clear either the same day or the next day. Payments sent by CHAPS, or made by debit or credit card online will also come through quickly, as will payments made at a post office or a bank or building society. Note that to make those payments you will need a paying-in slip.
If you pay by bacs, via an existing direct debit or attempt to pay by a cheque sent through the post, you must leave at least three working days for the payment to go through. If you are setting up a new direct debit, give yourself five working days.
Be mindful of bank holidays – if your deadline is on a bank holiday or a weekend then the only reliable ways of paying are Faster Payment or debit/credit card. For all other payments, make sure that the last clearing day will be the last working day before the deadline, to ensure that the payment hits your account.
The HMRC website is generally quite reliable, but you may experience problems with the payment service during very busy times. You should check the website to make sure that there are no current problems, and also look to see if there is any planned maintenance – because this could make it harder for you to pay. Plan ahead to make sure that the payment does indeed go through in time.
If you want to let HMRC work out how much tax you owe, you need to file early. The deadlines for self assessment and for HMRC calculated tax differ, and this is something that does catch a lot of people out. Talk to an accountant if you aren’t sure what the deadlines are, or how to fill out the forms correctly. They will be able to give you some good advice, and could save you not just time and stress, but also a lot of money in the long term as well, by ensuring that you pay the right amount of tax, and avoid potential fines or penalties.