Correcting errors in a self-assessed tax return
Changes were made as of 1 January 2017 to how errors in self-assessed tax returns (previously called the Periodic tax return) are corrected. The new way to correct an error is to file a replacement return for the tax period where the error occurred. On a replacement return, you re-submit the complete information on the tax (VAT, for example) at the right amounts. Similarly, to make a correction regarding employer's contributions (payroll withholding, health insurance, tax at source); you must file a replacement return containing all the amounts as they should be. Replacement returns must be filed electronically, in MyTax, for example. To file them on paper is not allowed unless there is a special reason for it. Please always indicate your reason for the correction when you send us a correction after 1 January 2017 of VAT or of employer contributions. In other words, indicate the reason also when correcting earlier filings e.g. for 2016 tax periods.
The revised method also applies to any corrections that need to be made to taxes for periods that ended before the beginning of 2017. This means that replacement returns are to be filed for both new and old tax periods when corrections to already filed returns are being made after 1 January 2017.
Example: In case of an error in the "tax period" field on the return, the way to put things right is to re-submit as many replacement returns (with the periods corrected) as are necessary for each tax period concerned. If no reportable taxes are accrued for a certain tax period, you must file a Not Active report ‒ often referred to as a 'zero return'.
Errors must be corrected within three years. For purposes of this time limit, the important factor is the calendar year or accounting period to which the tax relates that should have been filed and paid. The three-year period starts from the beginning of the calendar year that follows that year or accounting period.
The main rule is that a replacement must normally be filed for the tax period when the error occurred.
When the tax base (or other similar information) must be corrected, the correction entry must always be made for the tax period containing the error. Similarly, corrections of the type of tax must also be made for the tax period containing the error. When making corrections to tax returns where both the tax payable and the base of the tax are indicated, you must give the amounts consistently for the same tax period.
Corrections relating to amounts withheld, to tax at source or to the employer's health insurance contribution almost always cause that the relevant Employer Payroll Report must be corrected, too.
Correcting a slight error
It is always possible to enter a correction to an error in a tax return for the tax period when it occurred, regardless of its amount in euros. A new, alternative method of making corrections to self-assessed tax returns has been introduced. It is available to corrections that concern tax periods with start date 1 January 2017 or later. However, it only applies to errors with little or no economic consequence. If you need to correct a slight error, you can do so simply by including the correction in your next tax return, i.e. the return you must file by the due date that comes after the month when you detected the error. This means that for a slight error, you do not have to refer to the tax period when it had occurred: it is enough if you just adjust the tax to be reported for a later tax period.
Note: negative values are only permitted on VAT returns. In other words, when you make corrections to other taxes than VAT, you are not allowed to have the tax amount decrease so much that it turns into a negative value. The correction rules let you spread out the decrease over a number of tax periods coming after the one when you detected the error. If there is not enough tax payable during the first period, you can continue adjusting the figures for the next period and period after that until the error has been put right.
The calendar year as the tax period
Example 1. Too much VAT was reported.
In May 2018, the taxpayer detects a slight error pertaining to November 2017. Too much VAT at the 24-percent rate was reported, the excessive amount being €200. There is no need to prepare a correction specifically for November 2017; rather, you can make the necessary correction by the general due date in June 2018 when filing your tax return.
|Self-assessed tax return||VAT filed for November (11/2017):||June 2018 return without the correction of the slight error||June 2018 return after correcting the slight error|
|Tax on domestic sales 24 %||1000||1200||1000|
|Tax deducted for the period||700||700||700|
Example 2. Too much withholding was reported.
In August 2018, the taxpayer detects a slight error that relates to October 2017. The withholding entry has a too high value: 200 euros too much. There is no need to prepare a correction specifically for October 2017; rather, you can make the necessary correction by the general due date in September 2018 when filing your tax return. Because you didn't notice the mistake until the following year, you also have to make a correction to your Employer Payroll Report for 2017.
|Self-assessed tax return||Amount filed for October(10/2017):||September 2018 return without the correction of the slight error||September 2018 return after correcting the slight error|
Example 3. Too much withholding; corrections are spread out over a number of months.
In October 2017, the taxpayer notices a slight mistake involving the return for September 2017. The withholding entry is 200 euros more than the actual amount withheld. There is no need to prepare a correction specifically for September 2017. The withholding for October is €100. When filing the return for October, the amount can only be corrected for €100 because it is not allowed that the withholding value would become negative. For this reason, the taxpayer must spread out the correction of this slight error over a number of months.
|Self-assessed tax return||Amount filed for September (9/2017):||October 2017 return without the correction of the slight error||October 2017 return after correcting the slight error|
Example 4. Too little VAT had been reported.
In May 2017, the taxpayer detects a slight error pertaining to January 2017. The amount of VAT at the 24-percent rate had been too low by €200. There is no need to prepare a correction specifically for January 2017; rather, you can make the necessary correction by the general due date in June 2017 when filing your tax return.
|Self-assessed tax return||VAT filed for January (1/2017):||June 2017 return without the correction of the slight error||June 2017 return after correcting the slight error|
|Tax on domestic sales 24 %||1000||1200||1400|
|Tax deducted for the period||700||700||700|