HMRC fined 300,000 tax payers

A record 11.7 million people submitted their tax returns on time, but over 300,000 taxpayers missed the self assessment deadline

This compared with 10.2m completed returns by the 2021 deadline, although HMRC did extend the filing period due to the fallout from the pandemic.

On 31 January, 861,085 taxpayers filed online to meet the deadline, some with minutes to spare – 36,767 individuals filed in the last hour before the deadline.

The peak hour for filing on the day was 16:00 and 16:59 when 68,462 taxpayers submitted their tax return.

In total, 11,733,465 (97.3%) returns were received before the deadline, meaning an estimated 327,407 taxpayers missed the deadline – raising £32m in late penalties for HMRC.

Around 10.9m (94.5%) of returns were filed online, with 385,296 (3.4%) filed on paper, following adjustments.

More than 12m individuals were expected to file their self-assessment tax returns for the 2021 to 2022 tax year. HMRC is urging customers who missed the deadline to submit theirs as soon as possible or risk facing a penalty.

Myrtle Lloyd, HMRC’s director general for customer service, said: ‘Thank you to the millions of customers and agents who got their tax returns in on time.

‘Customers who have yet to file, and who are concerned that they will not be able to pay in full, may be able to spread the cost of what they owe with a payment plan.’

Last year, more than 10.2m million taxpayers filed their tax returns by the deadline, leaving 3.4m facing penalties, which raised £340m.

Those who fail to process their returns by the deadline face an initial £100 penalty from HMRC. If the return is filed more than three months late, a £10 per day penalty is charged.

Mike Parkes, tax expert at GoSimpleTax, said: ‘HMRC won’t accept mistakes, forgetfulness or lack of funds as a reason not to have filed your tax return, so if you’ve missed the deadline you should aim to submit your return as quickly as possible to avoid a higher fine.

‘However, there are exceptions for genuine reasons for missing the deadline, such as bereavement, illness or technical failure, but you’ll need to provide evidence of these to escape the fine.

‘If you do have a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline, you should get in touch with HMRC as soon as you can. You’ll still need to file a return but could escape the £100 fine.’

As well as incurring penalties, the late filing of tax returns can also be seen as a ‘red flag’ by HMRC, putting the individual concerned at greater risk of a tax investigation.

For late filers, there is also a risk of a ‘super penalty’ of 200% of tax owed if your tax returns is more than 12 months late. HMRC’s new standard for ‘deliberately withholding information’ is demonstrated by two recent tax tribunal cases.

In these cases, HMRC levied ‘super-penalties’ on taxpayers delayed filing returns for multiple years because they could not afford their tax bills.

Punishing late filers in the same way as those who lie on their tax returns or evade taxes altogether will be seen as excessive by many, looking only to the news recently regarding an member of the conservatory party.

‘There are all kinds of circumstances that cause people to file their income tax returns late. Most people who file after the deadline do so because they cannot afford the tax bill and hope that late filing gives them extra time to gather the funds.

‘Blatantly lying on tax returns or evading tax payments altogether is a much more serious crime so it seems unfair that people who have filed late because of negligence should receive as harsh a punishment as evasion.’

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