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HMRC waives penalties for late Self Assessment filings


HMRC has announced that it won’t issue late filing and payment penalties in February, extending support for Self Assessment taxpayers struggling to complete their return on time.

This is the second year the tax authority has waived penalties to ease the pressure on taxpayers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

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 Deputy Chief Executive, Angela MacDonald, said that they “know the pressures individuals and businesses are again facing this year due to the impacts of Covid-19.

“Our decision to waive penalties for one month for Self Assessment tax payers will give them extra time to meet their obligations without worrying about receiving a penalty.”


More time without worrying about a penalty

HMRC said that almost 6.5 million people have already submitted a return, but this leaves 5.7 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 still encouraging taxpayers to file by 31 January if you can.

If you can’t pay your tax bill by 31 January, you won’t receive a late payment penalty if you pay in full or set up a Time to Pay arrangement by 1 April.

Interest will be applied to any outstanding balance from 1 February, so it’s still best to pay on time if you can.

What Self Assessment support has HMRC previously announced?

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.

Other HMRC support for this year’s tax deadline includes:

  • the ability to pay your tax bill over 12 months if you think you’ll struggle to pay by 31 January (although you need to file your return to set up a plan) – read more about Time to Pay
  • the option to reduce your payment on account if you think your bill will be lower than the previous tax year (because of reduced earnings, for example) – read more about payment on account
  • the option to contact HMRC over webchat, Twitter or the Self Assessment phone helpline, with people available on 30 and 31 January

HMRC has also reminded people to be alert to fraudsters emailing, calling, or texting and claiming to be from the department.

Visit our Self Assessment help and support page to read more articles about completing your tax return.

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Sam Bromley

Sam has more than 10 years of experience in writing for financial services. He specialises in illuminating complicated topics, from IR35 to ISAs, and identifying emerging trends that audiences want to know about. Sam spent five years at Simply Business, where he was Senior Copywriter.

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