HMRC has announced that it won’t issue late filing penalties in February, extending support for Self Assessment taxpayers struggling to complete their return on time.
The tax body previously said that it would accept coronavirus-related ‘reasonable excuses’ for appealing against late filing penalties.
This latest announcement goes further, with a blanket pause on issuing penalties until 28 February.
HMRC’s Chief Executive, Jim Harra, said that they can now “reasonably assume” most late filers will have a valid excuse related to the pandemic.
While HMRC has so far resisted calls to extend the deadline, this announcement is the latest concession to help taxpayers struggling with Self Assessment.
HMRC said that more than 8.9 million people have already submitted a return, but this leaves three million yet to file – and the filing rate makes it clear that a number of taxpayers and their agents will struggle to do so on time.
The tax authority is clear that this isn’t an extension. It’s still encouraging taxpayers to file by 31 January.
Even if you can’t file your return on time, you still need to pay your tax bill by 31 January – and paradoxically, completing your return is the best way to know how much tax you owe. Interest will be applied to any outstanding balance from 1 February.
As mentioned, HMRC previously said that it would accept coronavirus ‘reasonable excuses’ for missing the deadline. Under that scenario though, it would’ve still issued penalties, and taxpayers would’ve had to appeal.
HMRC said it recognises the “immense pressure” that taxpayers are facing, with Chief Executive Jim Harra commenting: “Not charging late filing penalties for late online tax returns submitted in February will give them the breathing space they need to complete and file their returns, without worrying about receiving a penalty.”
Other HMRC support for this year’s tax deadline includes:
Visit our Self Assessment help and support page to read more articles about completing your tax return.
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