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HMRC hits more than 700,000 self-employed taxpayers with a fine

2-minute read

Sam Bromley

13 February 2019

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While the majority of taxpayers filed their 2017-18 Self Assessment return on time, 731,186 didn’t – running the risk of receiving a £100 late filing penalty.

In the aftermath of the Self Assessment deadline, HMRC has revealed that over 93 per cent of taxpayers filed on time – a new record.

But with so many people still missing the deadline, the tax authority claims it'll treat those who have ‘genuine excuses’ leniently.

What are the fines for filing your Self Assessment return late?

Each of the 731,186 taxpayers who filed their tax return late are liable for a late payment penalty, which is £100 initially.

This is due even if there’s no tax to pay, or if you paid your tax bill on time. Over time, the fine increases:

  • after 3 months – additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900
  • after 6 months – a further penalty of five per cent of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater
  • after 12 months – another five per cent or £300 charge, whichever is greater

HMRC has also highlighted additional penalties for paying your tax bill late. This is five per cent of the tax unpaid at 30 days, six months and 12 months.

More people filed online than ever before

HMRC says that a record number of taxpayers filed online, with 10,129,234 choosing to fill in an online return over a paper one. This was 93.5 per cent of all returns filed.

This is a positive sign considering small businesses should be preparing for Making Tax Digital for VAT, which starts in April 2019. The self-employed can also join a pilot scheme for sending digital income tax updates.

HMRC might be hoping that the record number of people filing online means taxpayers will be ready for the full leap to Making Tax Digital, although this won’t happen until 2020 (at the earliest).

700,000 filed their return on deadline day

HMRC also revealed that 735,258 taxpayers left filing their return to the 31 January. The most popular time to send was 4-5pm, with 60,000 returns being submitted over the hour.

Our own data shows that nearly 1,000 people read our when is the tax return deadline article on deadline day.

What to do if you haven’t filed your return

If you haven’t filed your tax return, it’s important to get in touch with HMRC as soon as you can. HMRC says: “The department will treat those with genuine excuses leniently, as it focuses penalties on those who persistently fail to complete their tax returns and deliberate tax evaders. The excuse must be genuine and HMRC may ask for evidence.”

The reasonable grounds for appealing a penalty can include situations like a bereavement and an unexpected hospital stay.

Read more about HMRC late filing penalties, penalty appeals and reasonable excuses.

We also have a tax and Self Assessment resource you can use if you need more information – it's a collection of our top tax articles and guides in one handy place.

How did you get on this tax return season? Let us know in the comments below.

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

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