HMRC to waive fines for late self-assessment tax returns due to Covid

HMRC will waive fines for self-employed workers who file their self-assessment tax return late due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis.

The deadline to submit your self assessment to HMRC is January 31.

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HMRC says it will accept Covid disruption as a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline[/caption]

Your earnings are used to determine the amount of tax you owe for 2019/20 and the amount of any payments on account for 2020/21.

Around 5.4 million Brits were yet to file as of January 5, according to HMRC.

But the department has said it will accept Covid disruption as a reasonable excuse for people missing the deadline.

Usually, taxpayers have to pay a £100 penalty on the first late day.

How do I fill in the tax return?

BEFORE you can complete and submit your tax return, you'll need to have a unique taxpayer reference (UTR) and activation code from HMRC.

This can take a while to receive, so if it’s the first time you’re completing self-assessment, make sure you register online as soon as possible.

To sign in or register visit the “Self Assessment tax return” section of HMRC’s website.

If you’ve already signed up for self-assessment, you can find your UTR on relevant letters and emails from HMRC.

HMRC accepts your payment on the date you make it, not the date it reaches its account – including on weekends.

So if you want to pay by bank transfer you can do so up until the evening of January 31, but it’s best to get it out the way in advance.

If you need to change your tax return after you’ve filed it, you can do so within 12 months of the original deadline or you can write to HMRC for any changes after that.

Filling in your tax return can seem daunting, but with our step-by-step guide you’ll have it sorted in no time.

If it’s delayed by three months, you may have to pay a penalty of £10 a day for a maximum of 90 days.

If it’s late by six months, you’ll be fined 5% of the tax you owe or £300, whichever is greater.

This could rise even more if the delays are later than this – you can calculate how much your fine will be on the Gov.uk.

HMRC will have to prove they have been negatively impacted by coronavirus and that it has caused a delay in making the the deadline.

This means that any personal or business disruption that has been pandemic-related – such as homeschooling or self-isolating – could count as an excuse.

An HMRC spokesperson said: “We want to encourage as many people as possible to file on time even if they can’t pay their tax straight away, but where a customer is unable to do so because of the impact of COVID-19 we will accept they have a reasonable excuse and cancel penalties, provided they manage to file as soon as possible after that. 

“Support is in place for those who may struggle to pay with customers able to spread their payment liabilities of up to £30,000 over 12 months.”

The fines are automatic, so you’ll need to appeal to HMRC by explaining how you were affected by the pandemic.

You can do this by filling out the online form or printing it of and sending it in by post.

On Christmas Day this year, 2,700 Brits people filed their tax returns, in comparison to over 3,000 people who did the same thing last year.

Last year, HMRC hit hundreds of taxpayers with £100 late fines despite filing on time.

While in February, a woman got a £1,316 HMRC tax fine refunded after The Sun stepped in.

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