The UK’s HM Revenue & Customs has abandoned late filing and payment of fines for self-assessment taxpayers by an additional month, to support those struggling with pandemic pressure.
The decision comes when HMRC revealed that of the 12.2 million taxpayers who have to file their tax return by 31 January, only 6.5 million have already done so.
“We know the pressure that individuals and businesses are experiencing again this year due to the impact of Covid-19,” said HMRC Deputy CEO Angela MacDonald.
“Our decision to waive fines for one month for self-assessment taxpayers will give them extra time to meet their obligations without worrying about receiving a fine.”
While the deadline to file and pay remains January 31, late fines will not apply if a return is filed online by February 28. Fines for late payments will not apply if tax has been paid by 1 April.
The same deadline applies to setting up a Time to Pay arrangement, which allows taxpayers to spread £ 30,000 or less over as many as 12 monthly installments.
However, the January 31 deadline applies to all other purposes, said Nimesh Shah, CEO of tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg.
“HMRC will still want the tax and any late payments will attract daily interest at 2.75 per cent and a 5 per cent surcharge if not paid by April 1 (which is a month more than normal),” he said. he warned.
He added that the miss of the deadline could have other impacts, such as the extension of the window that HMRC has to launch an investigation, and that certain demands and elections must also be submitted by 31 January.
This is only the second time the government has taken such a step, following a decision last year after recruiting support from accountants and tax experts, who argued that they would struggle to meet the deadline due to the impact of Covid.
In a normal year, a failure to file a tax return on time will result in a £ 100 fee, with further charges if the delay is three months or longer.
A record 1.8 million people gemis the January 31 deadline last year after HMRC announced it was temporarily waiving the fee, almost double the 2020 total.
A recurrence was unexpected as the disruption was more limited than in 2021, Shah said. “HMRC may be more concerned about the number of returns not submitted, and the pressure to extend the timeframe as the deadline approached.”
The move was welcomed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. “We have called on HMRC to give more time to self-assessment taxpayers and their agents, so we are very pleased with this decision that will help people and tax agents dealing with continued disruption caused by Covid-19,” he said. Frank Haskew said. head of tax strategy at ICAEW.
“It will be a huge relief for those facing tax bills, along with other household debt in January,” added Dawn Register, head of tax dispute resolution at BDO, the UK’s fifth largest accountant.
Under normal circumstances, taxpayers will have to appeal to HMRC on the basis of a “reasonable excuse” for their delay, Register said, a process open to interpretation.
HMRC said more than 45,000 tax returns were filed over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.