63,521 taxpayers filed their 2020-21 self assessment tax return on 6th April 2021. No procrastination, no worrying about missing deadlines, just done and filed as soon as possible.

Unsurprisingly, HMRC are holding this up as a good example to everyone and encouraging as many people as possible to get their tax return in early.

Why should I file my tax return this early?

You’re right, the deadline for your 2020-21 self assessment tax return is midnight on 31st January 2022. But that doesn’t mean you have to wait until then. The tax year ended on 5th April 2021, none of the figures are going to change and you don’t need any more information that the records you’ve already got. So there’s absolutely no reason not to just get it done.

Crucially, it doesn’t mean that you have to pay your tax bill early too. That deadline remains 31st January 2022 no matter when you get your tax return in.

Reasons to file early:

  • No chance of missing the deadline and getting fined
  • Consult your accountant or tax professional, without deadline pressure.
  • Get your tax refund as soon as your return has been processed
  • Know exactly how much you owe with plenty of time to gather that amount
  • Tick it off your list, get rid of the impending dread, breathe a huge sigh of relief and concentrate on your current business growth

As HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services, Myrtle Lloyd, said:

“There are many advantages to completing your Self Assessment tax return sooner rather than later, not least that if you’re due tax refund you’ll get the money within a few days.

“Our new online guide helps answer many of the questions customers have about Self Assessment. Go to GOV.UK and search ‘file your tax return early’.”

Do lots of self assessment taxpayers file on the very first day?

If you look at the figures over time, you can see that every year there are tens of thousands of very organised people who file their tax returns on the first day of the new tax year.


Date of filing For Tax Year Number of online tax returns received by HMRC
06.04.17 2016-17 22,885
06.04.18 2017-18 36,939
06.04.19 2018-19 35,255
06.04.20 2019-20 96,519
06.04.21 2020-21 63,521


In a press release, HMRC said that by 17th May 2021 they’d received 934,501 online self assessment tax returns for the 2020-21 tax year.

How do I file my tax return early?

Everyone has had a difficult financial time recently, including the self employed. Getting your tax return done early is a useful way of keeping your circumstances tightly under control.

HMRC knows that the pandemic has thrown up all sorts of difficulties and some of these become tricky things to navigate on your tax return. So they’ve produced a Self Assessment Guide that covers most information you might need, such as:

  • What information you need before you start your tax return
  • How to fill in your tax return
  • Declaring any COVID-19 support you received from HMRC, like SEISS grants or furlough payments
  • What to do if you can’t afford your tax bill – there is a payment plan available called Time to Pay
  • How to reclaim any tax overpayments you’ve made

Be careful

As ever, watch out for criminals pretending to be HMRC. They know about this trend too and will try and exploit people using a variety of scams. Some say that they’ll send the police or bailiffs round if you don’t immediately pay your tax bill. Some say that you’re due a nice big tax refund and they ‘just need your bank details’.

These scams work. Not because people are stupid. But because the fraudsters are very good at what they do. So be on your guard and think before you click on any attachment or link. If in doubt, phone a real HMRC number and ask about your tax status. Find out more about scammers and phishing sites here.

So, when do you file yours? Two minutes to midnight on the 31st January? Sometime in October when business usually slows down a bit and before it ramps up to the Christmas rush? Maybe consider putting it in your calendar for next week…imagine the relief (and potential bragging smugness!).