Our guide covers what a payment on account is, how it works, late payment penalties and other key information you need to know
What is a payment on account?
Paying your taxes can seem complicated, particularly if you're newly
How do payments on account work?
Each payment is half of your previous tax bill. The payment on 31st January is the first advance payment you'll make for the current financial year, and the remaining half will be paid off on 31st July.
This can be confusing, so we've included an example below to explain how it works:
John is a self-employed repairman. For his first year of business (2018/19), he is required to pay £2,000 in taxes to HMRC by 31st January 2020. He also needs to make payments on account for 2019/20. These are due on 31st January 2020 and 31st July 2020, and each instalment amounts to £1,000 (half of John's previous tax bill of £2,000).
This means that on 31st January 2020, John is required to pay a total of £3,000.
In filing his tax return for 2019/20, John discovers that his tax for the year is £2,500. As he has already paid £2,000, the amount that is now due is £500. This is due on 31st January 2021, as is known as the balancing payment.
John has to make payments on account for the 2020/21 tax year. The instalments are due on 31st January 2021 and 31st July 2021, and each payment amounts to £1,250 (half of John's previous tax bill of £2,500).
Who has to make payments on account?
You're required to make payments on account if:
- Your last Self Assessment tax bill amounts to more than £1,000
- You aren't paying tax at source on more than 80% of your income
How to make a payment on account
If you're submitting your Self Assessment online, you can make your payment on account at the same time.
If you're submitting your tax return on paper, you'll receive a paper bill and Bank Giro form that you can use to make your payment.
Penalties for late payments on account
According to HMRC, "the first late payment penalty is 5% of any tax unpaid after 30 days".
"Where a balancing payment or payment on account is still unpaid more than 30 days from the due date for that year's balancing payment, a late payment penalty automatically arises equal to 5% of the tax unpaid at that date."
How to reduce payments on account
Your payments on account are based on your previous tax bill, as it is assumed that you'll be earning the same income—and as such, be paying a similar tax in the ensuing year.
Yet, as a self-employed person, it isn't unusual for your income to fluctuate from year to year.
If you think that your earnings will be lower than the previous tax year, you can make an application to have your payment on account reduced. This can be done through submitting Form SA303 online or by post.
Bear in mind that HMRC may charge interest and impose penalties for underpayments, so it's best to consult our accountants at Forma before you apply to reduce your payments on account.
Best practice for payments on account
Check your payments on account well in advance of any deadlines:
Conducting regular checks ahead of deadlines will leave you with plenty of time to contact HMRC, in the event that there are aspects you need to clarify.
You can easily do a check online-just sign into your Government Gateway account, and select the option to view your latest Self Assessment return.
This will show payments on accounts that you've made, along with payments you need to make for your next tax bill.
Get into the habit of saving for your taxes:
If you're newly self-employed, you'll need to get into the habit of setting money aside for your tax bill.
Unsure about how much you need to save? You can use HMRC's ready reckoner. It's a tool that calculates how much you need to set aside for your Self Assessment tax bill, based on your estimated weekly or monthly profit.