The deadline for submitting paper versions of the 2009 Self Assessment return has indeed passed, the last day being 31st October 2009. All returns after this date must be submitted electronically and to assist in this H M Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have made available their own online filing system. HMRC stress that the process is safe and secure and have gone to great lengths to encrypt the data submitted, with a unique ID and password needed to access the system.

Unfortunately this level of protection means that you have to complete a registration process as a first time user before you can start to complete and submit the return online. This is a two stage process where you:

• register for online government services and ‘enrol’ (sign up) for Self Assessment Online, and then
• activate your online account using the Activation Code – this is sent to your home address by the Government Gateway (the central registration service for online government services) and usually arrives within seven working days.

Due to this need to register and obtain the activation code/user ID and the time lapse caused whilst it is provided to you it is essential that you start the process as soon as possible. To register go to and follow the link “do it on-line” and select “Self Assessment”: Then follow these steps:

• Select Register in the New User section.
• Choose the type of account you need – individual (personal or self employed), organisation (partnerships) or agent (if youre acting for a client).
• Select Self Assessment Online as the service you wish to use.
• Follow the on-screen instructions (this will include reading and accepting the Terms and Conditions, and creating a password of your choice).
• Youll be shown your unique User ID on-screen.
• The information required to register and obtain your user ID is;
• your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number, and either your postcode or National Insurance number.

Youll find your UTR on the paper tax return that was issued to you in April 2009, or on correspondence from HMRC. Alternatively you can contact your Tax Office and ask for it – it can only be sent in the post to your home address causing further potential delays.

Once you have both your User ID and Activation Code, youll need to return to the HMRC website and log in using your User ID and chosen password. You will then be able to activate Self Assessment Online. You must do this within 28 days. After this time your Activation Code will no longer be valid. Once youve activated the service you can destroy the Activation Code.

This process is only required once and will allow continuing access for future years.

Only now having completed this process will you be in a position to complete and submit your self assessment return online. This can be done at any time of day or night and you get an instant acknowledgment as soon as HMRC receives your tax return.

Once logged into the system you can select “file a Return” and follow the various stages of identifying your types of income, entering details of earnings, claiming allowances etc. The process will then automatically calculate your liability from the information you have entered and confirm the amounts payable and when. The length of time this will take depends on how complicated your affairs are and whether or not you have the necessary information to hand.

Remember to save a copy of the acknowledgement together with your completed return and to print out a copy for your records.

Please remember that your online tax return must reach HMRC by midnight on 31st January to avoid a £100 penalty.

If you need any help with your tax returns or have any other tax related queries, call the TaxWise Advice Service on 01455 852555 and one of our advisors will be on hand to help.