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Five million tax returns still to be filed

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

More than five million tax returns are still outstanding, with less than a month to go before the deadline.

HMRC is expecting to receive a total of 12.1 million 2019/20 tax returns by the 31 January 2021 deadline.

So far, 6.6 million (55%) of returns have been submitted but there are around 5.4 million which are still outstanding.

The latest figures from HMRC reveal that 18,000 returns were filed on New Year’s Day with 1,943 completing their returns between 3pm and 4pm.

For those who have yet to complete them, HMRC urges people to act now as it could take longer than expected.

Research by campaign group Which? revealed that one in five (20%) of 4,000 people polled managed to complete their return in less than one hour. But one in 10 said they laboured over the job for more than five hours.

Karl Khan, HMRC’s interim director general for customer services, said: “In what was a very difficult year for many, we are grateful to the 55% of our customers who have already submitted their returns.

“HMRC is ready to offer support to those who are yet to file their returns or are worried about paying their tax bill, but they must act now so we can help before the deadline.”

Once tax returns are completed and the submitter knows how much tax is owed, they can set up their own payment plan to help spread the cost of their tax liabilities, up to the value of £30,000.

The online Time to Pay facility can be used to set up monthly direct debits. Interest will be applied to any outstanding balance from 1 February 2021.

Do you need to complete a tax return?

You’ll need to complete a Self-assessment return if you:

  • have earned more than £2,500 from renting out property
  • have received, or partner has received, Child Benefit and either had an annual income of more than £50,000
  • have received more than £2,500 in other untaxed income, for example from tips or commission
  • are a self-employed sole trader whose annual turnover is over £1,000
  • are an employee claiming expenses in excess of £2,500
  • have an annual income of over £100,000
  • have earned income from abroad that you need to pay tax on.

If you’re completing a tax return for the first time, have yet to start or need help, HMRC provides guidance. You can also call the self-assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310 or contact HMRC via social media (don’t disclose any personal information though).

Penalties for late tax returns

The penalties for late tax returns are:

  • an initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time
  • after three months, additional penalties of £10 per day may be charged, up to a maximum of £900
  • after six months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater
  • after 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater.

There are also additional penalties for paying late of 5% of the tax unpaid at 30 days, six months and 12 months. Interest will be charged on all late payments.