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HMRC waive fines for the late filing of tax returns for those affected by the pandemic – you still might be better off filing on time though

Posted on 13 Jan 2021 - News

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By 4th January HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) reported that some 6.6 million self-assessment tax returns had been filed, this included 2,700 people who spent Christmas day filing their return.

This number is down on the same time in previous years with many who are required to file a return being affected by the impact of the pandemic. It is estimated that there are 12 million people who are self-employed or who have additional sources of income and therefore are required to complete a return.

For some, getting their return done and meeting the 31st January deadline may be proving challenging. For others who are financially affected by the situation, there may be a decision to hold off filing the return so as to defer or delay any tax payments to be made.

In light of the situation, HMRC has announced that those people who file their tax returns late will not be fined if they have been hit by the pandemic. However, to ensure this is the case, those looking to extend the time period for filing a return will need to file a “Covid excuse form” with HMRC. 

Typically, those considered to have a reasonable excuse include parents who are home schooling children if they can show this has affected their ability to complete their accounts on time. Those who caught Covid in recent weeks and even those whose accountants caught the virus and struggled with their workloads will also be allowed to delay their return.

HMRC have said: “We want to encourage as many people as possible to file on time even if they can’t pay their tax straight away. But where a customer is unable to do so because of the impact of Covid-19 we will accept they have a reasonable excuse and cancel penalties, provided they manage to file as soon as possible after that.”

We would strongly advise clients to adhere to the 31st January 2021 deadline. Certainly, Streets Tax Partners and their teams will endeavour to complete all returns due and ensure they that they are filed with HMRC. Given the current climate, it is likely that HMRC will look more favourably on those who submit their return on time and they will be in a better position for getting a time to pay in place if they have submitted. 

Those who owe £30,000 or less can set up a payment plan if they do not have any other payment plans or debts with HMRC, tax returns are up to date and it’s less than 60 days after the payment deadline.

The following link provides details on setting up a payment plan:

https://www.gov.uk/pay-self-assessment-tax-bill/pay-in-instalments

If you’re not eligible for a payment plan or cannot use the online service then you will need to call the Self-Assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310.

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