985,000 taxpayers miss self assessment deadline

A record £10.4m taxpayers filed their self assessment tax returns online by the 31st January deadline, but nearly a million returns are still outstanding.

For the first time a total of £11.1m taxpayers filed by the 31st January deadline, including around 700,000 who filed on paper by the earlier October 2019 deadline.

HMRC said that 958,296 taxpayers missed the deadline (8.18%), up on last year’s 700,000 late returns. An estimated £11.7m 2018/19 tax returns were due by the end of January.

As usual, there was a surge of last minute submissions, as thousands of taxpayers filed their tax returns in the last hour with 26,562 completing their returns from 23:00 to 23:59 on deadline day.

Throughout the day over 702,000 (7%) taxpayers submitted their returns with the peak hour for filing between 16:00 to 16:59 when 56,969 filed.

Online filing accounted for 10,450,542 returns were filed online (93.95% of total filed), a record figure, and up on last year’s £10.1m.

Anyone who misses the deadline will be charged a penalty unless they can provide a genuine excuse, supported by evidence. HMRC has the right to reject unreasonable excuses and penalties can quickly mount up.

There is an initial £100 fixed penalty, which applies even if there is no tax to pay, or if the tax due is paid on time.

Penalties escalate the later the return is. After three months, additional daily penalties of £10 per day may be charged, up to a maximum of £900; after six months, a further penalty of 5% of the tax due or £300, whichever is greater; and for those failing to make a return after 12 months, another 5% or £300 charge, whichever is greater. There are also additional penalties for paying late of 5% of the tax unpaid at 30 days, six months and 12 months.

HMRC is urging anyone who missed the deadline to contact the tax office. It said that ‘the department will treat those with genuine excuses leniently, as it focuses penalties on those who persistently fail to complete their tax returns and deliberate tax evaders’.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s director general for customer services, said: ‘The majority of customers have submitted and paid their tax returns before 31 January. While few people enjoy the process it’s good to get it out the way and know you have contributed towards our vital public services.

‘I’d like to thank everyone who filed and paid on time, but anyone yet to file or pay should contact HMRC straight away because we are here to help.’

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