Four tax mistakes to avoid

Tim Bennett rounds up this week’s personal finance news, including why you should get cracking on your tax return, and what to check before you book your summer holiday.

Time is running out for the six million people who haven't yet filed a self-assessment tax return, says Rupert Jones in The Guardian. The deadline is 31 January, but leaving it until the last minute to file could be costly as you're more likely to make mistakes.

Here are four to avoid: don't leave out items of income such as building society interest; don't mix up net (after tax) and gross (pre-tax) amounts; don't forget to check your tax code; and make sure to pay what you owe by the deadline. So if you haven't started yet, then get cracking!

Savers have been "left in the lurch" after savings provider Governor Money (GM) announced it would be winding up its business, says The Daily Telegraph's Emma Simon. Launched just 18 months ago, the site, owned by Family Investments, offered access to a range of exclusive fixed-term savings products and individual savings accounts (Isas) managed via one central account.

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It was a nice idea, but a lack of decent savings deals meant it couldn't follow through on its offer. Any money invested via GM should be safe while it's held in an account at an institution with Financial Services Compensation Scheme protection. But once the fixed term ends, customers should move their money as it will end up in a pooled GM account and earn just 0.5%.

Holiday makers can grab big discounts by booking their summer holidays this month, says Holly Thomas in The Sunday Times. However, make sure you check two things before handing over any cash. First, watch out for the small print. Most deals on offer are "packaged" and may exclude costly local extras, such as drinks. And ensure your tour operator is ATOL protected, so you are covered should they go bust before you fly.

Falling house prices (at least outside London) should help first-time buyers. But they aren't, thanks to higher average deposit requirements. It now takes buyers an average of eight years to save a deposit, against just one in 1995, reports Barclays.

Meanwhile, thanks to the government's Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), which offers cheap finance to our banks, the "race to the bottom" of the savings tables is still on, reports Miles Brignall in The Guardian. M&S Bank is cutting the rate on its table-topping Advantage cash Isa by 0.5% from 1 March.

Since August, when FLS was launched, rates have fallen an average 0.88% on no-notice accounts, and 2.01% on two-year bonds.

Tim graduated with a history degree from Cambridge University in 1989 and, after a year of travelling, joined the financial services firm Ernst and Young in 1990, qualifying as a chartered accountant in 1994.

He then moved into financial markets training, designing and running a variety of courses at graduate level and beyond for a range of organisations including the Securities and Investment Institute and UBS. He joined MoneyWeek in 2007.