HMRC waives penalty for late filing of self-assessments

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) has announced that it will waive fines for self-assessments that miss the 31 January deadline, as long as they are filed online by 28 February.

Typically, not meeting the deadline would result in an automatic £100 penalty.

The tax agency said more than 8.9 million customers have already filed their tax returns.

However, taxpayers are still required to pay their tax bills by 31 January.

Treasury Committee chairman and Conservative MP for Central Devon Mel Stride welcomed HMRC’s announcement: “The decision will provide the flexibility that many individuals and businesses require during this difficult time.”

HMRC said that if possible, self-assessment customers are encouraged to file their tax returns by 31 January, but it understood that some people could find this difficult.

“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 31 January,” said HMRC’s chief executive Jim Harra.

“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.”

He added that the tax agency could “reasonably assume” that most people had “a valid reason for filing late”, caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

HMRC also emphasised that taxpayers who are unable to pay their tax bill can apply to spread liabilities of up to £30,000 over a period of up to 12 months.

However, they will need to file their 2019-2020 tax return first.

People who have tax bills over £30,000, or who need longer than 12 months to pay their bill, are advised to call HMRC.