Avoid delays with your personal tax return filing

Candice Fourie
Dec 16, 2020 · 2 min read
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The countdown to the personal tax return deadline is now well underway, so what issues should you be aware of that may delay the processing of your return, or any refund due?

HMRC receives over 11 million digital tax returns each year and the majority are usually processed automatically within a couple of days. However, approximately 90,000 need clerical review (human intervention) which can cause substantial delays to your return being processed and any refund being issued.

To help avoid this, HMRC has provided a list of instances that may cause these delays in its latest agent update.

Marriage Allowance (MA)

Your partner has to have made the regular application (via online/phone call/ letter) to initiate the Marriage Allowance transfer before you can claim it. After all, it is their allowance to gift in the first place.

When both partners are in the self-assessment system, it is also preferable that the transferring partner submit their tax return before the recipient. This will allow the SA system to process the transfer for that year.

Submitting a return as an amendment

A large number of returns online are incorrectly submitted as an amendment. HMRC are unable to process these returns as the original returns have not yet been submitted. Make sure that the type of return you are submitting is correct (live/test and full return/amendment) to avoid delays in processing.

Closed self-assessment record

You will not be able to submit your return online if your self-assessment record has been closed. This can be done in error, but you should receive a letter letting you know. If you want HMRC to reopen the account for filing, please get in touch by calling the self-assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310.

National Insurance

Class 2/4 NIC can only be included on your return if you are set up correctly on the National Insurance self-employed database. This error usually only affects newly self-employed individuals. You can register for self-employed NI by submitting form CWF1 online to inform HMRC of the start of a new self-employed or partnership income source. More information can be found on gov.uk.


Using an older version of your filing software can cause your return to be rejected as it may not be compatible with HMRC systems. These rejected returns have to be reviewed through a clerical process, which will cause a lengthy delay. Signing up for email alerts with your software provider can help you to keep up with any changes.

Or, you could take all of the stress out of personal tax season by signing up for No Worries to complete your self-assessment on your behalf.

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