Simply Business homepage
  • Business insurance

    • Business Insurance FAQs

    Business insurance covers

  • Support
  • Claims
  • Sign In
Call Us0333 0146 683
Our opening hours
Knowledge Centre

Hundreds of taxpayers hit with late filing penalty despite submitting their tax return early

1-minute read

Sam Bromley

24 January 2019

Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Although HMRC initially denied the mistake, they’ve now been forced to backtrack.

There’s no getting around the fact that Self Assessment can be stressful. But imagine getting your tax return done-and-dusted weeks before the deadline – and still being slammed with a late payment penalty.

That’s what happened to 653 people who submitted their return at the start of January. The BBC reports that HMRC sent them letters saying they’d missed the deadline and requested £100 as a late penalty, even though the deadline was still nearly a month away.

What’s more, HMRC initially issued a “strongly-worded statement” to the BBC that denied any issues with early penalty notices, but backtracked when they finally noticed the problem.

Two years of wrongly issued fines

Dan Neidle, tax partner at the law firm Clifford Chance, was one of the 653 people who received a letter.

He was also wrongly issued a late payment penalty last year, when he claimed that “something is going wrong” with HMRC’s automated penalty filing system.

The tax expert told the BBC: “I thought, oh no not again, as they did it to me last year even though I filed on time. The difference this time was that they sent the late-payment fine before the 31 January deadline.”

Mr Neidle was able to laugh off the error, suggesting he’s going to frame HMRC’s apology letter. But as we noted last year, more vulnerable taxpayers might be scared by these demands for payment – and end up settling a fine they don’t owe.

‘Human error’ to blame

The error related to online returns processed on 2 January by taxpayers filing for trusts that they manage.

HMRC first tried to deny they'd made a mistake, saying that ‘any assertion’ they’d messed up was false, but later admitted: “Due to human error in processing some online trust returns a small number of trustees or agents have been inadvertently issued with late filing penalties.”

Those penalties have now been cancelled, and HMRC say they’ve sent apology letters to everyone affected.

How do I change my Self Assessment tax return?

The Self Assessment deadline is 31 January each year. Although HMRC has corrected the mistake they made with these early returns, it’s important to check your return carefully to make sure you’re paying the right amount of tax.

If you notice you’ve made a mistake after filing, don’t fret – it’s possible to change your return. The deadline for making a change for the 2017-2018 tax year is 31 January 2020 – you may need to pay more tax or be able to claim a refund, depending on what you report.

Read more: tax return changes – how to I change my return after filing?

Have you ever been affected by a wrongly issued late payment penalty? Let us know in the comments below.

Looking for self-employed insurance?

With Simply Business you can build a single self employed insurance policy combining the covers that are relevant to you. Whether it's public liability insurance, professional indemnity or whatever else you need, we'll run you a quick quote online, and let you decide if we're a good fit.

Start your quote

We create this content for general information purposes and it should not be taken as advice. Always take professional advice. Read our full disclaimer

Find this article useful? Spread the word.

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn

Keep up to date with Simply Business. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter and follow us on social media.

Subscribe to our newsletter


Popular articlesBusiness resources from FarillioGeneral businessGuestInsuranceLandlordLandlord resources from FarillioLegal and financeMarketingNewsOpinionProperty maintenanceTradesmanCovid-19 business support hub


Public liability insuranceBusiness insuranceProfessional indemnity insuranceEmployers liability insuranceLandlord insuranceTradesman insuranceCharity insuranceRestaurant insuranceCommercial van insuranceInsurers


About usOur teamAwardsPress releasesPartners & affiliatesOur charitable workModern Slavery ActSocial mediaSite map

Customer support

Contact & supportPolicy renewalMake a claimProof of policyComplaintsAccessibility


6th Floor99 Gresham StreetLondonEC2V 7NG

Sol House29 St Katherine's StreetNorthamptonNN1 2QZ


Careers at Simply BusinessTech careersCurrent opportunities


BenefitsRefer a friendFinance


Terms & conditionsPrivacy policyCookie policyVuln Disclosure policy


Knowledge centreOpinionsMicrosites

© Copyright 2022 Simply Business. All Rights Reserved. Simply Business is a trading name of Xbridge Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Financial Services Registration No: 313348). Xbridge Limited (No: 3967717) has its registered office at 6th Floor, 99 Gresham Street, London, EC2V 7NG.