Key tax year dates for small businesses in 2021

By Tim Cooper

8 Jan 2021

Key tax year dates for small businesses in 2021

As the pandemic continues to impact UK businesses, many still face financial difficulties as they enter 2021. HMRC has thrown firms a lifeline by delaying some tax deadlines or spreading payments for those that need it.

But some annual tax dates and deadlines also stay the same. The sooner you get these and any deferred deadlines in your diary, the earlier you can start planning to keep on top of your tax and filing schedule.

This article covers

Corporation tax for limited companies

Private limited companies must prepare full annual accounts and a company tax return at the end of your financial year.

Your accounting period for corporation tax is the 12 months covered by your company tax return, and normally the same as that covered by your annual accounts.

The standard deadline for paying corporation tax, or telling HMRC you do not owe any, is nine months and one day after your accounting period for corporation tax ends. The filing deadline for your company tax return is 12 months after your accounting period.

Your entry in the Companies House register tells you when your accounts are due.

You can apply to extend your filing deadline if an event outside your control prevents it - for example, a fire destroying records. You must apply before the deadline.

Also, if coronavirus affects your company and your filing deadline is between 27 June 2020 and 5 April 2021, you may be eligible to extend the deadline. The extensions are between three and 12 months, depending on the type of company. You do not need to apply for such an extension. See if you are eligible and check the new deadlines.

As in previous years, any companies struggling to pay their tax can also apply for HMRC’s Time to Pay (TTP) service, which involves paying by instalments. According to an HMRC spokesperson, “any business can contact HMRC for advice and, if a debt is due, may be eligible to receive support with tax affairs through TTP. So if you know you cannot meet an upcoming payment deadline, contact us.”

VAT deadlines

Most businesses must use accounting software to submit VAT Returns. Deadlines depend on your accounting period.

In 2020, HMRC allowed companies affected by the pandemic to defer VAT payments owed between 20 March and 30 June 2020. If you deferred, and still owe VAT from that period, you can pay it in full on or before 31 March 2021.

Alternatively, you can opt in to the VAT deferral new payment scheme. This allows you to make up to 11 smaller, interest-free payments until 31 March 2022. You will be able to opt in from early 2021.

For all upcoming VAT periods, you can check your return and payment deadlines in your VAT account.

These two deadlines are usually the same and are one calendar month and seven days after the end of each VAT accounting period. For example, if you have a quarterly period ending on 31 January 2021, the deadline will be 7 March 2021; and subsequent deadlines will be 7 June, 7 September and 7 December 2021.

Some deadlines are different, for example, if you use the VAT Annual Accounting Scheme.

If you need more support on VAT, contact HMRC to apply for a TTP arrangement.

PAYE deadlines

HMRC has not deferred any pay as you earn (PAYE) tax payments. You must pay your employer’s PAYE by:

  • the 22nd of the next tax month for those paying monthly (or the 19th if paying by post)
  • the 22nd after the quarter if you pay quarterly - for example, 22 July 2021 for the 6 April to 5 July 2021 quarter.

Self-assessment deadlines

Most limited company directors must also complete self-assessment tax returns. HMRC must receive your return and any money you owe by the deadline.

If you make advance payments - known as payments on account - but delayed them in July 2020 because of Covid disruption, the new deferred deadline is 31 January 2021. If you are still struggling to pay that bill, eligible individuals can also set up a payment plan by phone.

For the last tax year - 6 April 2019 to 5 April 2020 - you must file your online self-assessment return and pay the tax you owe by midnight on 31 January 2021. This year’s payment on account deadline will be 31 July 2021.

Individuals who face difficulty paying this year can also apply for Time to Pay help.

If you are a non-resident company, or a trustee of a registered pension scheme, you cannot send a return online and HMRC must receive your paper tax return by 31 January.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

The JRS or ‘furlough’ scheme, which runs through the PAYE system, has been extended until March 2021. The claim deadlines are 14 or 15 days after the end of the month you claim for – for December 2020 to March 2021, these deadlines are 14 January, 15 February, 15 March, and 14 April 2021.

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