Urgent news for self-assessment late payers
Did you miss the January 31st self-assessment submission deadline? Are you wondering why you haven’t received your penalty notice? Are you thinking you’ve ‘got away with it - that HMRC is so pre-occupied with the small matter of Brexit that they’ve forgotten about your misdemeanour? Think again. HMRC, like the elephant, never forgets!
You won’t be surprised to learn that the government is under massive pressure as the Brexit deadline looms ever closer. So severe is this pressure that it’s causing inefficiencies in many aspects of government activity. One example relates to self-assessment. You’ll be aware that, if you’re late filing it, then you face penalties. HMRC is delaying sending out notification of these penalties.This January, over 11.5m taxpayers were due to file their self-assessment submissions by midnight on January 31st. 93.68% managed to beat the deadline – a record high. However, 731,186 taxpayers were late.
HMRC has just announced that, as part of its Brexit planning, it has delayed sending out the usual notifications of the standard £100 late-filing penalty.
Here’s what they say –
‘This creates considerable demand into our call centres and back offices, as customers contact us to consider their options. This year, we expect an increased demand in our call centres as the UK leaves the EU, so we intend to delay the issue of these notices to ensure we can provide the best service to our customers.’
‘This will release those staff for EU exit related work.’
Does that mean late filers will escape paying their penalty? Definitely not. HMRC states that those who filed late will still be charged the penalty – it’s just the notice that will be delivered later than normal. Those who still haven’t filed their returns by the end of April will still have to pay daily penalties.
The latest date that the notices will go out is the end of April. If Brexit is agreed and signed off before that date, then the penalty notices will go out sooner.
If you think that the delay is a good thing, you’d be wrong. After all, the £100 penalty notice is a vital prompt to taxpayers that their return is overdue. It also reminds them that they risk incurring an additional penalty of £10 per day if the return is still outstanding at the end of April.
The problem in delaying the sending out of penalty notices until late April or May, is the £10 daily penalties will still apply and they might come as an unexpected shock. The question we have for HMRC is this – When you eventually decide on who you’ll be issuing fines to, will you be taking into account the late sending out of notices?
I’m worried that the delay in sending penalty notices might give the wrong impression to those who filed late. They might assume that they won’t receive a penalty or that they will only incur the fixed £100 penalty. There’s a possibility that they might even be liable to pay the daily £10 penalty from May 1st with no prior warning at all.
If you’re one of those who still hasn’t filed their 2017-18 tax return, make it your number one priority. You won’t avoid the £100 fine (unless you have a reasonable excuse), but you will avoid the £10 a day fine. And don’t think that, just because you’re not due to pay tax, you don’t have to file a return. You certainly do. You’ll still have to pay the £100 if you file late.
This is how the fines are structured –
– File after January 31st, pay a £100 fine (unless you have a reasonable excuse)
– File after April 31st, pay £100 + £10 a day, up to a maximum of £900 (90 days)
– File after 6 months (end of July), pay an extra 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater
– File after 12 months (the following January 31st ), pay a further 5% or £300, whichever is greater
Ask the experts
The best way to avoid the unpleasantness, stress and cost of late filing is simple. Sort it out now. If you can’t, don’t worry. Simply call us. We’re tax specialists and will give you fast and efficient tax advice.
This legal information is not the same as legal advice and you may not rely on our post as a recommendation of any particular legal understanding. Please, consult an attorney if you’d like to get advice on your interpretation of this article.