How Often Do HMRC Check Tax Returns & How Do I Avoid It?

How Often Do HMRC Check Tax Returns? If you’re worrying about whether you’ve done enough to appease the taxman this year – you’re not alone. Lots of taxpayers ask: “How often do HMRC check tax returns?”,…

10 Minute Read

Updated: 02 Jan 2020

How Often Do HMRC Check Tax Returns?

If you’re worrying about whether you’ve done enough to appease the taxman this year – you’re not alone. Lots of taxpayers ask: “How often do HMRC check tax returns?”, and the answer isn’t a wholly reassuring one. In reality, HMRC can go back and look at your Self Assessment submissions at any time they desire.

But don’t let that work you up. There are plenty of ways to pacify the taxman and lessen the likelihood of a tax investigation. Simply take note of the guidance here, and you won’t need to worry about HMRC poring through your accounts.

File on time

Any tax returns that arrive after the Self Assessment tax return deadline raise a big red flag with HMRC. You’ll be penalised with an immediate £100 fine for late filing, but you’re also bundled together with taxpayers who are considered disorganised or worse – dishonest. In the taxman’s eyes, those who can’t meet basic deadlines may be making errors elsewhere when it comes to paying what they owe.

As long as you’re hitting the Self Assessment tax return deadline and filing it in the correct manner with accurate figures, you should keep HMRC happy.

Suspicious expenses

It’s crucial to declare your expenses clearly on your tax return – but do your research beforehand and understand what you can claim for. Unjustified or inaccurate expense listings may bother the taxman to the point where he decides to send a team to investigate potential deceit.

For added security, keep hold of any receipts you’ve obtained throughout the year and store them in a safe place, as this will help to reinforce any expense claims you’ve made. That way, it won’t matter how often HMRC check tax returns: you’ll always be prepared to answer any questions.

Ignoring certain sources of income

HMRC need to know about pretty much every penny that comes into your account – regardless of where you might have gotten it from. They will then determine whether you need to be taxed on this income. If you omit any earnings (small or large), it’s like you’re trying to make that decision for them.

If your income doesn’t add up, or regularly logged earnings from previous years are conspicuously absent on your most recent Self Assessment, the taxman will get curious and come knocking. Don’t risk leaving any income out. If you do, get in touch beforehand to explain why.

Use tax return software

Meeting the Self Assessment tax return deadline, listing accurate expenses and logging all income will significantly reduce the chances of an HMRC investigation. The great news is that you can achieve all of the above by using tax return software such as SimpleTax.

Widely regarded as the best Self Assessment software on the market in terms of usability and dependability, SimpleTax offers you peace of mind at a stressful time. With our tax software, you can submit a flawless Self Assessment, with guidance and support at every turn.

So stop worrying about how often HMRC check tax returns. Instead, trial our software for free today and ensure you complete your Self Assessment on time.

Trusted by over 10,000 subscribers

You don't need to be an expert to complete your self assessment tax return.

Get Started

How GoSimpleTax Works


Simply register for free with your full name and email address.

Select Your Income

Select the income you receive and follow the hints and tips for potential tax savings.

Validate Your Information

Validate your personal information and submit directly to HMRC to get confirmation in just seconds.

frequently asked questions

Work Anywhere, With Any Device

Gone are the days of fretting over a calculator surrounded by scraps of paper at the eleventh hour.

GoSimpleTax’s tax return software uses the information you upload in real time to calculate your income and expenditure, working out the tax you owe and sending you helpful notifications when there’s the possibility of a mistake.

Get Started

"The software is intuitive and proved very easy to navigate. I found the whole process refreshingly simple. I saved a lot of money too!"

Steve J.

Ordained Presbyter

"Easy to use and value for money. Everything you need to do your tax."

Gordon J.

Self Employed

"It fills in all the forms and sends them to the Inland Revenue. Not expensive either. Takes the stress out of doing your tax return online."

Ross G.

Team Rector

Get Started