What happens if I’ve missed the self-assessment tax return deadline?

Created February 2nd, 2018 by Alex Watts

Almost 750,000 people missed the midnight 31 January deadline for filing their tax return this year.

As reported by The Guardian, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said almost 10.7 million taxpayers had submitted their self-assessment return before the deadline, but around 745,500 were still outstanding. Those people now run the risk of a £100 fine.

Angela MacDonald, the department’s director general for customer services, said: “If you’re one of the small number that missed the deadline, please submit your return now to avoid further penalties. We really don’t want penalties, we just want tax returns.”

If you’re one of the 6.5% who missed the deadline, here’s everything you need to know about what to do next.

How much is the fine if I miss the Self Assessment tax return deadline?

Anyone required to file a return who misses the deadline receives an automatic £100 fine from HMRC – if you have an online account, this penalty will be added to it.

The fine is imposed regardless of whether you owe tax or not. If you fail to file within three months – that is, by the end of April – HMRC can then impose additional fines.

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 3 months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day, up to a maximum of £900
• after 6 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

Can I escape a fine?

A HMRC spokesman said that not all of those who failed to file on time would pay a penalty.

Those who have a reasonable excuse – for example, they were unable to submit their form because they had to go to hospital or a close relative died – may be able to avoid a fine, provided they get their return in as soon as possible.

However, HMRC says it will not waive penalties for those who find the Self Assessment system too difficult to use or who did not receive an official reminder. Ridiculous excuses such as your wife having seen aliens will also not hold much weight.

If you do wish to appeal against a penalty, you’ll need to fill out what’s called an SA370 form.

What to do next

If you haven’t filed yet, now is the time to act, otherwise the fines and interest will keep building up.

If you’re already registered for Self Assessment online, all you need is financial information for the 2016/17 tax year, such as your annual accounts and/or P60, plus details of investment profits, savings interest, pension contributions, etc.

If you aren’t registered yet, you need to start this process right away – but it can take several days or weeks to register because HMRC needs to send you an activation code in the post. Visit HMRC’s website now for more information.

Avoiding future problems

Registering for Self Assessment is probably the most difficult part of the process. Once you’re registered, filing your returns in the future should be far more straightforward.

Keep any information you’ll need for future returns in a safe place, as well as your username and password for online, and make a note to file your next return well in advance of next year’s Self Assessment deadline.

You can file your return at any time after the current tax year ends on 5 April.

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