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HMRC announce breathing space on late Self Assessment tax returns

By Alan Beresford

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SELF Assessment customers will not receive a penalty for their late online tax return if they file by February 28, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have announced.

Sel Assessment customers have an extra breathing space in which to file their tax returns.
Sel Assessment customers have an extra breathing space in which to file their tax returns.

More than 8.9 million customers have already filed their tax return. HMRC is encouraging anyone who has not yet filed their tax return to do so by January 31 if possible.

Anyone who cannot file their return by the January 31 deadline will not receive a late filing penalty if they file online by February 28.

Taxpayers are still obliged to pay their bill by the end of January. Interest will be charged from February 1 on any outstanding liabilities. Customers can pay online, via their bank, or by post before they file. More information on how to pay is at gov.uk

Taxpayers who cannot afford to pay their tax bill on time can apply online to spread their bill over up to 12 months. However, they will need to file their 2019-20 tax return before setting up a time to pay arrangement, so HMRC is encouraging everyone to do this as soon as possible.

HMRC’s Chief Executive, Jim Harra, said: “We want to encourage as many people as possible to file their return on time, so we can calculate their tax bill and help them if they can’t pay it straight away.

"But we recognise the immense pressure that many people are facing in these unprecedented times and it has become increasingly clear that some people will not be able to file their return by January 31.

“Not charging late filing penalties for late online tax returns submitted in February will give them the breathing space they need to complete and file their returns, without worrying about receiving a penalty. We can reasonably assume most of these people will have a valid reason for filing late, caused by the pandemic.”

HMRC has previously said that it was keeping the situation closely under review.

Customers who are required to make Payments on Account, and know their bill is going to be lower than the previous tax year, for example due to loss of earnings because of Covid-19, can reduce their Payments on Account. Visit gov.uk to find out more about Payments on Account and how to reduce them.

Customers who are trying to contact HMRC in the run up to the deadline can do so via webchat, Twitter or the Self Assessment phone helpline. They may also find the information they need via the free HMRC app or their Personal Tax Account.

The phone helpline and webchat will both be open on January 30-31, in addition to the weekday service. Opening times are: Telephony and card payment lines – Saturday, January 30, 8am to 6pm and Sunday, January 31, 9am to 6pm; Webchat – Saturday, January 30 and Sunday, January 31, 8am to 8pm.

To protect against identity fraud customers must verify their identity when accessing HMRC’s online services. They must have two sources of information including credit reference agency data, tax credits, P60/payslip and UK passport.

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