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How Can I Check if My Tax Return Has Been Processed by HMRC? (UK Guide)

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You’re probably already aware that tax season is one of the most stressful times for sole traders in the UK.

There’s so many tax related tasks and obligations to keep track of. Which can result in you being fined if you don’t handle them properly. 

That's why understanding how to check if your tax return has been processed is essential to maintaining your peace-of-mind.

If you’ve had the pleasure of dealing with HMRC’s tax helpline, you’ll know exactly how challenging this can be.

So in this guide we will walk you through the steps, ensuring you stay informed and prepared. Let's unravel the process together, making tax management straightforward and stress-free.


Understanding Tax Return Processing Times

For sole traders in the UK, submitting a tax return is a fundamental aspect of managing your finances. Once you've submitted your return to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the waiting game begins. Generally, HMRC aims to process your tax return within:

Online Submissions: Up to 72 hours for acknowledgment. However, the full processing can take up to 2 weeks, especially during peak times.

Paper Submissions: These can take significantly longer, often around 8 to 10 weeks. It's worth noting that processing times may extend during the busy period following the Self Assessment deadline in January.

Keep in mind, these are approximate timescales. The actual time can vary based on the complexity of your return or if HMRC requires further information. 

It's also important to consider seasonal fluctuations. Processing times tend to increase around the deadline due to the high volume of submissions.

How to Check Your Tax Return Status

The process to check the status of your tax return and/or if it has been received can be straightforward if you know where to look. Here’s how you can do it:

Online Through HMRC

1. Access HMRC's Online Services: Start by visiting the HMRC website. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to register for a Government Gateway account, which is essential for accessing your tax information.

2. Log In: Once your account is set up, log in with your credentials. Navigate to the Self Assessment section to view your current tax return status.

3. Check Your Dashboard: Your HMRC dashboard will display the latest updates on your tax return, including whether it has been received, processed, or if any further information is required.

Via the HMRC App

1. Download the App: HMRC offers a mobile app available for both Android and iOS devices. Download it from your app store.

2. Log In: Use your Government Gateway credentials to log in. If you’re a new user, the app will guide you through the registration process.

3. View Your Tax Return Status: Within the app, navigate to the Self Assessment section. Here, you'll find details on the processing status of your tax return.

Contacting HMRC Directly

If you prefer a more direct approach or if the online options don’t provide the answers you need:

1. Prepare Your Information: Have your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number and any relevant personal details ready.

2. Call the Self Assessment Helpline: HMRC provides a dedicated line for Self Assessment queries. Be aware that call volumes can be high, especially close to the tax deadline, so try calling at less busy times if possible.

3. Follow the Guidance: The HMRC representative will guide you through the process of checking your tax return status over the phone.

By using these methods, it should be relatively easy to check the status of your tax return and stay updated as you work through yearly filing responsibilities. 

What to Do After Your Tax Return Has Been Processed

Once HMRC has processed your tax return, it’s important to know the next steps. Whether you’re due a refund, owe tax, or are just preparing for the next financial year, here’s what you should do:

If You're Due a Refund:

Wait for Notification: HMRC will inform you about your refund through your chosen communication method (email or post). This notification will detail the amount and the expected timeframe for the refund.

Check Your Bank Account: Refunds are typically processed directly to your bank account. Ensure your bank details with HMRC are up-to-date to avoid delays.

If You Owe Tax:

Review Your Payment Deadline: The notification from HMRC will specify how much you owe and the due date for payment. Ensure you’re aware of the deadlines to avoid any late payment penalties.

Explore Payment Options: HMRC offers various payment methods, including bank transfer, debit card, and Direct Debit. Choose the one that’s most convenient for you and make sure to pay before the deadline.

Staying Informed

Check for Changes: Tax laws and regulations can change, so it’s important to stay informed. HMRC’s website and newsletters are great resources for the latest tax information.

Seek Advice if Needed: If you have questions or need guidance, don’t hesitate to consult a professional. Resources like Crunch offer valuable advice and support tailored to sole traders.

Understanding what to do after your tax return has been processed ensures you remain compliant with tax regulations and well-prepared for the future. 

This proactive approach helps manage your tax obligations effectively and keeps financial surprises to a minimum.

FAQs on Checking Your Tax Return Status

Before we finish we’ll add some answers to the most common questions regarding what happens after submitting a tax return:

What if my tax return is delayed?

If it's been longer than 12 weeks and you haven't received any communication from HMRC, contact the Self Assessment helpline for more information. Have your UTR number and personal details ready.

How do I know if there's a problem with my tax return?

HMRC will contact you either through your online account or via mail if there's an issue with your tax return, such as missing information or discrepancies.

How can I correct a mistake on my tax return after it's been submitted?

You can make amendments to your tax return within 12 months of the submission deadline by logging into your HMRC account and following the prompts to amend your return.

Checking the Status of Your Return Can Be Easy

Hopefully this guide has given you a better understanding of how HMRC processes tax returns. If you follow the instructions in this guide then your self assessment experience should be a smooth one. 

Just allow enough time and patience to go through the steps and assess all the information accurately. And be proactive and call HMRC if you need direct help. 

Believe it or not they do resolve the vast majority issues eventually, albeit slowly but surely. 

If you want totally stress-free tax filing and ultimate peace of mind, try Crunch’s Self Assessment service, to get your entire tax return done for you by expert accountants.

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James Waller
Content Specialist
Updated on
February 26, 2024

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