Penalties waived for late self assessment tax returns

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HMRC have announced that self-assessment customers who cannot file their online tax return by the Sunday January 31 deadline, will not receive a late filing penalty as long as they file it online by Sunday February 28.

While HMRC is still encouraging people to file their return by the end of this month, as 8.9 million customers have already done, it is extending the deadline for those that will be unable to, owing to ‘unprecedented times’.

HMRC’s chief executive, Jim Harra, said: ‘We want to encourage as many people as possible to file their return on time, so we can calculate their tax bill and help them if they can’t pay it straight away. But we recognise the immense pressure that many people are facing in these unprecedented times and it has become increasingly clear that some people will not be able to file their return by Sunday January 31.

‘Not charging late filing penalties for late online tax returns submitted in February will give customers the breathing space they need to complete and file their returns, without worrying about receiving a penalty. We can reasonably assume most of these people will have a valid reason for filing late, caused by the pandemic.’

Normally, late filing penalties are applied to all returns filed after the January 31 deadline. Those penalties are cancelled if the customer has a reasonable excuse for filing late. However, this year HMRC is not issuing late filing penalties for a month to help taxpayers and agents who are unable to meet the deadline.

HMRC said it was keeping the situation closely under review as it has become increasingly clear from the filing rate that some taxpayers and agents cannot file on time.

Support for customers who may need help with their tax liabilities has also been increased. Once customers have completed their 2019-20 tax return, they can set up an online payment plan to spread self assessment bills of up to £30,000 across 12 monthly instalments or less depending on what is required. Customers can apply for self-serve Time to Pay via GOV.UK. Interest will be applied to any outstanding balance from Monday February 1, 2021.

Customers with bills over £30,000, or who need longer than 12 months to pay their bill, can call HMRC on 0300 200 3822 to discuss time to pay.

Customers who wish to contact HMRC in the run up to the deadline can do so via webchat, Twitter or the Self Assessment phone helpline on 0300 200 3310. Further information and contact details can also be found on the free HMRC app.