HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced that UK residents required to file a self assessment tax return will not receive a penalty for submitting late online, if they do so by 28 February 2021.
However, they are still encouraged to file their tax return by the standard 31 January deadline, if possible.
No late filing penalty
People who are unable to file their self assessment return by 31 January will not receive a late filing penalty, provided they submit the online return by 28 February.
However, taxpayers are still obliged to pay their bill by 31 January, and interest will be charged from 1 February on any outstanding liabilities.
Filing late usually results in an initial £100 penalty, followed by further potential charges. This is sometimes waived if a customer has a reasonable excuse for filing late.
HMRC has said that people with tax bills of more than £30,000, or who need longer than 12 months to pay their bill, can phone to discuss their payment options.
There are more than 12.1 million people in the UK expected to complete a tax return this year, and HMRC revealed that, to date, “more than 8.9 million” have already done so.
Jim Harra, the HMRC’s chief executive, said: “Not charging late filing penalties for late online tax returns submitted in February will give people 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.”
‘Out of date’ tax system
Last week, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) criticised HMRC’s “out of date” tax systems. The PAC has called for HMRC to explain why it was unable to help some freelancers and other groups who have been left out of the UK’s coronavirus support measures.
Dawn Register, head of tax dispute resolution at audit and tax services business BDO, welcomed the move by HMRC said: “With the upcoming deadline causing increased concern among those unable to submit their tax return by January 31.
“This is a softening of the filing deadline, but the payment deadline remains unchanged, so interest will still begin to accrue from February 1 if personal taxes are not paid by January 31.
“However, HMRC clearly understands that those severely impacted by Covid-19 should not face receiving a ‘brown envelope’ in February, as it would result in unnecessary angst.”