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Almost 2 million missed tax return deadline

John Fitzsimons
Written By:
John Fitzsimons

Around 1.8 million taxpayers did not manage to get their self assessment tax returns into HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) by the 31st January deadline, the taxman has revealed.

While more than 10.7 million people managed to meet the deadline, that still leaves almost two million taxpayers who are yet to file their return.

However, as part of the Government’s Covid-19 relief schemes, these late filers won’t face the usual penalties.

The new deadline

Ordinarily taxpayers would be hit with late filing penalties, but things are working slightly differently this year. So long as taxpayers file their tax return by 28th February, there will be no late filing penalty.

However if they miss this second deadline, then the usual daily penalties will be implemented. This includes a £10 penalty for each day in which the return is late, up to a maximum of £900, with additional penalties at six months late and 12 months late.

While there is no late filing penalty, HMRC did point out that those who did not pay their tax bill on time are now incurring interest on the outstanding balance and so should pay the bill as soon as possible.

Any outstanding balance should be paid off, or at least a payment plan put in place, before 3rd March in order to avoid a 5% late payment penalty.

HMRC urged those taxpayers who have not been able to file their tax return to pay an estimated amount as soon as possible, in order to minimise any interest or late payment penalties they may face. There is a calculator on the Gov.uk website to help work out an estimated tax bill.

Spreading the payments

Karl Khan, interim director general for customer services at HMRC, thanked those taxpayers who have filed their tax returns.

He added: “We know that many individuals and small businesses are finding it harder to pay this year, due to the pandemic. Anyone who can’t afford to pay their tax bill in full can set up a payment plan, once they’ve filed their return, to spread their tax bill into monthly instalments.”

Taxpayers can set up a payment plan, where they pay off the tax they owe, in 12 monthly installments so long as they meet certain criteria. These include:

  • No outstanding tax returns, other tax debts or other HMRC payment plans
  • The debt must be between £32 and £30,000
  • The payment plan must be set up no later than 60 days after the due date for payment

Taxpayers who don’t meet those requirements, or who need longer in order to pay off their bill, are urged to speak to one of HMRC’s debt advisers.

Around 25,000 taxpayers currently have these ‘Time to Pay’ arrangements in place.

Don’t fall for a tax scam

The tax return deadline is always a fruitful time for scammers, who set up copycat websites posing as HMRC in the hope that you will share your details with them.

It’s also a time when tax-related phishing scams are particularly common, with scammers posing as the taxman claiming that recipients may be able to claim help or are due a tax refund.

HMRC called on taxpayers to search for ‘self assessment’ on Gov.uk to ensure they get the correct link for filing their tax return online securely, and cautioned people to be on their guard if they receive a call, email or text from anyone claiming to be from HMRC in case it is a scam.

The Government’s website includes a guide to help you work out whether correspondence you have received is genuinely from the taxman or if it’s a scam.