Online only

8 January 2022

The deadline is extended until 28 February 2022

Tax warning

DO YOUR taxes on time. Our earlier reminder to have your self-assessment tax return filled in online and submitted online to the tax people at HMRC still stands, only with more urgency.

Our advice at the link above also shows you how to register to submit tax returns online if you became self-employed in tax year 2020-2021. The deadline to send in your tax return for the period from April 2020 to April 2021 - and thereby avoid an automatic fine in four figures - is 31 January 2022.

Access code misery

One frustrating experience that a few freelances have encountered is logging in to the HMRC app or website via the Government Gateway. For many this will follow an "absence" of a year. The Gateway asks for your tax reference number and password in the usual way. It should then generate an access code - a verification code that allows you to enter the HMRC site or app. Sometimes, though, it doesn't.

This is, apparently, something to do with some people using a new device to access the Government Gateway, or having downloaded the app again since they last logged on. You may then find yourself effectively locked out of doing your taxes online, through no fault of your own, until they sort it out. There's something opaque about generating a "QR code" for your access code which makes our heads hurt, but it looks as though you can skip this.

To get back in you have to answer questions about your passport, your most recent tax return, and so on. The Gateway may ask about your recent "P60" end-of-tax-year statement: as a freelance you won't have one of these, unless you were paid on the PAYE system. You'll need two documents from their short list to prove you're still you.

Sorting this out is really the sort of infuriating hassle freelances don't need as we struggle to do our taxes on time. So, if you completed your tax return yet, it's best to log on to the Government Gateway now and see whether you're affected by this "change the way you receive your access code" silliness. Doing so could avoid possible unnecessary stress later. There are apparently a helpline numbers for HMRC access code woes: 0300 200 3300 and 0300 200 3600. Expect hold-Muzak™.