Nearly 2m miss tax deadline

Around 1.8 million taxpayers have missed the self-assessment deadline, figures from HMRC show. 

More than 10.7 million people submitted their 2019/20 self-assessment tax returns by January 31. The rest, unlike previous years, will not be charged a late filing penalty as long as they they submit online by February 28. 

HMRC previously announced that anyone who could not file their return by the usual January deadline would not receive a penalty if they filed online by the end of this month. 

But taxpayers were still obliged to pay their bills by the end of January and they will incur interest on any money outstanding. 

HMRC said those who are not yet able to file should pay an estimated amount as soon as possible to minimise any interest and late payment penalty.  

Karl Khan, HMRC’s interim director general for customer services, thanked  the 10.7 million filed on time but 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 installments.” 

Dawn Register, Head of Tax Dispute Resolution at BDO said: “Whilst HMRC delayed imposing late filing penalties, it is key to remember that the payment deadline remains unchanged, so interest will still begin to accrue from today (Feb 1) if personal taxes were not paid by 11.59pm yesterday, unless the person agreed to pay by instalments.  

“If you missed yesterday’s filing deadline and have cash flow issues, do not bury your head in the sand. HMRC will need to know what payments are due before agreeing a Time to Pay arrangement, which means that you must file your return first.  

A Time to Pay arrangement can be set up online where less than £30,000 is owed. If you owe more than £30,000, you will need to contact HMRC to set up a tailored agreement to fit your needs.  

“Penalties may be imposed if returns are not filed online this month. The key message is that for people who missed the January 31 filing they really should try to file in February and before the next penalty deadline of February 28.”