HMRC eases the pressure over Self Assessment filing deadline

HMRC has softened the impact of the Self Assessment (SA) deadline, as businesses struggle with mounting absences due to sickness.

31 January will remain the SA filing date, but HMRC will waive penalties for late filing and late payment for one month.

HMRC chief executive Jim Harra explained the decision:

“The waivers will operate in the same way as last year.  We are not moving the filing or payment deadline and other self-assessment obligations are unchanged.  Interest will be charged as usual from 1 February on outstanding amounts.”

Harra said the waiver of penalties would give extra time to both SA taxpayers and their agents in the light of likely absences in January due to Covid-19.

“We think it is reasonable to conclude that significant numbers of taxpayers will have a valid, Covid-related reasonable excuse for filing or paying late, so it is more sensible not to charge the penalties for a short period rather than rely on the usual appeal route,” he said.

HMRC took the decision after representations from accounting bodies, including AAT.

Adam Harper, AAT Director of Professional Standards and Policy, commented:

“AAT welcomes today’s announcement that the Government has introduced waivers for the late filing and late payment penalties. This will give valuable breathing room to many taxpayers and help them to avoid potentially damaging fines at a critical time – not only for them as individuals, but for the UK economy as a whole. It will also help to reduce the impact of unnecessary stress due to Covid-related absences on agents, including AAT members.

“However, as our Accountable campaign highlights, many people may still consider using an unregulated tax agent in order to meet the deadline, putting themselves at risk of receiving poor advice which could lead to significant mistakes and unnecessary costs.

“We encourage people to ensure that they receive paid-for tax advice from a member of a relevant professional body, such as AAT, to ensure they get up-to-date advice. Our free consumer guide, ‘What you should know before appointing an accountant’, can also help them to find a skilled, professional accountant to meet their needs and protect their financial interests.”

Alongside the waiver of fines, HMRC has produced additional resources to help taxpayers with foreign income ahead of the SA deadline.

These include: 

David Nunn is Content Manager at AAT.

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