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Martin Lewis issues urgent self-assessment tax warning

Martin Lewis said on Good Morning Britain today: “If you’ve been sent a self-assessment tax return or received notification that you need to fill one in, you must complete it online by 11.59pm on Friday 31 January and pay any tax due (the paper filing deadline has long past – that was 31 October) or…

Martin Lewis said on Good Morning Britain today: “If you’ve been sent a self-assessment tax return or received notification that you need to fill one in, you must complete it online by 11.59pm on Friday 31 January and pay any tax due (the paper filing deadline has long past – that was 31 October) or you face a £100 fine plus interest on any underpayments.” Martin then went on to detail how people should do the self-assessment.

He said: “At the start of the month there were over five million taxpayers who needed to file an online self-assessment tax return but hadn’t yet done so.

“Yet if this is your first time doing it, then technically you should have registered to file a self-assessment by 5 October 2018, but luckily HMRC says you won’t be fined if you register now, as long as you file the tax return itself before the 31 January deadline.

“After you’ve registered you’ll receive an activation code and your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) by post, but the letter can take up to 10 working days to arrive, so that means you need to request one ASAP.

“Also, try not to leave filing your return until the 31st deadline, as chances are the phone lines will be extremely busy if you need to contact them.”

READ MORE: Martin Lewis reveals his ‘Quick Deals’ including ‘free’ £175 cash & January 2020 vouchers

martin lewis money saving expert self assessment

Martin Lewis: The money saving expert urged viewers to sort out their tax self-assessment now (Image: Getty Images/ITV)

Martin had other savvy financial advise during his appearance on the show, and revealed how Britons facing paying down debt in 2020 could clear it as quickly as possible.

He said: “This is the week when many who spent in the run up to Christmas on credit cards find out the damage. If you’re dreading this month’s bills dropping through the letterbox, don’t wait to deal with it – that just means interest will keep accruing.

“The priority is to stop new borrowing, find free money to increase repayments and try to reduce the interest you pay. This means more of your repayments clear the actual debt rather than just cover the interest, so you can be debt-free quicker.

“If you pay interest on a credit or store card debt, consider a balance transfer card. It’s where you get a new card to pay off debt on other cards, so you owe it instead, but at zero percent.

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“The length of top zero percent deals is shorter than a year ago, and I don’t see things improving, so if you’ve debt to shift, it’s best to act quickly.”

Martin then explained how to find the best deals for you, and said: “To find the best card don’t just apply willy-nilly though, use an eligibility calculator to see whether you’re likely to get accepted first, without it impacting your credit file.

“Many card firms now have these, or you can use Martin’s balance transfer eligibility calculator which shows your odds of getting most top cards.

“Out of the top cards: the joint longest zero percent card is from Sainsbury’s Bank giving up to 29months zero percent with a one-off 2.74 percent fee (min £3). But as it’s an ‘up-to’ card, some who are accepted can get a far shorter zero percent than advertised.

income tax rates worldwide

Martin Lewis: What are Income Tax rates around the world? How does the UK compare? (Image: NC)

“Alternatively Virgin Money is also giving 29 months zero percent, with a slightly higher 3% fee but crucially it isn’t an ‘up to’, meaning if you’re accepted you’ll definitely get the full length.

“Or Barclaycard is up to 28months zero percent, with a 1.75 percent fee, but if transferring over £2,500 you also get £20 cashback. The longest no-fee card is Santander, giving 18months zero percent.

“And remember if you are balance transferring, always follow my balance transfer golden rules…

  • Clear the debt or shift again before the zero percent ends or you’ll pay the rep APR – 19.9 percent Sainsbury’s, 21.9 percent Virgin Money and Barclaycard, 18.9 percent Santander)

  • Never miss the min monthly repayment or you can lose the zero percent

  • Don’t spend/withdraw cash. It usually isn’t at the cheap rate

  • Usually you need to do the transfer within 60 days to get the zero percent

Martin also issued a travel insurance warning for Britons jetting off on holiday this summer.

While many people wait until just before their departure to invest in a policy, Mr Lewis has stated this is not a wise decision.

The money saving expert advised travellers purchase insurance “ASAB” or “as soon as you’ve booked.”

With January being a peak time for holiday plans coming to fruition, Mr Lewis emphasised the importance of looking into an adequate policy now. He explained: “January is the biggest holiday booking month, and if you’ve just book yours, make sure you’ve sorted your travel insurance out too.

“You need cover from the moment you go, yet far too many people book a holiday and then leave the cover until later.”

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