What were you doing between 2:00-3:00pm on Christmas Day? Tucking into your turkey? Watching a movie? Cracking open the Baileys? All the traditional things we can still do, even with this year’s restrictions.

Probably not doing your self assessment tax return. But HMRC’s newly released statistics show that over 200 taxpayers filed their online 2019-20 tax return between 2:00-3:00pm on Christmas Day.

Is this a new national tradition?

We hope not! The numbers for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are similar to last year. Total Boxing Day submissions decreased by 800 this year.


  2020 total tax returns submitted 2019 total tax returns submitted Peak hour & its number of submissions 2020 Peak hour & its number of submissions 2019
Christmas Eve 20,000 22,000 11:00-11:59




Christmas Day 2,700 3,000 14:00-14.59




Boxing Day 8,500 9,200 15:00-15:59





31,400 taxpayers got their 2019-20 self assessment tax return to HMRC during the period from the 24th to the 26th December 2020.

Why is this service available over the festive holiday period?

If you’ve always paid income tax through the PAYE system, it may seem strange that you can actually file your taxes on the same day that all the shops are shut. But this is a self-filing, online submission. HMRC staff will process the tax return, but you don’t need their help to actually complete all the information. Especially if you’ve done it before.

This accessibility is a crucial aim of the government’s long term ‘Making Tax Digital’ plan.

HMRC’s Interim Director General for Customer Services, Karl Khan, said: “Online Self Assessment means customers can do their tax returns at any time, day or night – even on Christmas Day if they want to. We’re here to help customers get their tax right, and there’s support available 24/7 like help sheets, webinars and YouTube videos. Search ‘Self Assessment’ on GOV.UK to find out more.”

Do I have to file a self assessment tax return?

If you are paid by an employer, you pay your income tax as part of the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) system. This means that your income tax is deducted by your employer and sent to HMRC before you even get your wages. But if you’re self employed, or have other income streams like renting out a property, you need to tell HMRC how much you earn and how much is taxable. You do this by filling in an annual self-assessment tax return.

You can still do this on paper and the deadline for paper filing is midnight on 31st October.

Most people now submit their self assessment tax returns online. This deadline is midnight on 31st January following the end of the financial year in question.

For example, you’re submitting a tax return for the 2019-20 tax year. This runs from April 6th 2019 to April 5th 2020. Your tax return for this year is due by 11:59 on 31st January 2021. This is also when you must pay the tax you owe on that year’s income. And there are immediate and cumulative financial penalties if you’re late with either.

If you’re not sure if you should be submitting a self assessment tax return, you need to speak to a tax professional, accountant or one of HMRC’s advisors as soon as possible. Understandably, this is a busy time of year for them, so put it at the top of your ‘to do’ list for after the New Year.