Can’t file your personal tax return on time? Find out about late-filing penalties and grounds for appeal

Tax season can be a stressful time for many – if you’re among those who find themselves unable to file on time, know that you are not alone and others have been in the same situation. In this blog post we will discuss your options if you find yourself unable to file on time, the consequences of late-filing, as well as available avenues of appeal against late-filing penalties. 

The annual deadline for submitting your online Self Assessment and paying any tax owed is midnight on 31 January. Failure to meet this deadline will result in an automatic fine of £100, and additional fines are levied the longer your return remains unfiled. Late payments will also accrue interest at a current rate of 6% (year 2023). These charges are separate and in addition to any charges for filing your tax return late. We find that people often confuse late-filing and late-payment penalties; this article is about late-filing penalties. 

I can’t file my personal tax return, what happens?

If you can’t file your personal tax return on time, there are some circumstances where HMRC may waive the late-filing penalty if you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. The extenuating circumstances include:

  • Recent death of a close relative
  • You have been seriously ill
  • Serious IT problems
  • Service issues with the HMRC online services

Each case will be considered individually and at HMRC’s discretion. Please note, not receiving the official reminder, or finding the Self Assessment system too difficult to use are not considered a reasonable excuse by HMRC. Therefore, in order to avoid penalties and other potential issues due to the late filing of your tax return, it’s best not to delay submitting your tax return. 

If you believe that you’ll be late filing your tax return because you are trying to gather all of the relevant supporting information, such as invoices, keep in mind that it may be better to complete your tax return on time and amend your return at a later date with the correct figures, thereby avoiding penalties. HMRC allows you to amend your self assessment tax return up to 12 months from the original submission deadline (31 January). If you choose to do this, you should tick the ‘estimated figures’ box on your tax return if you expect to change the figures later. 

Grounds for appeal

How to deal with penalties depends on your circumstances and what you believe caused the delays. If you want to appeal against a penalty, you will have to submit a SA370 form, or file an appeal online. You must appeal within 30 days of the date HMRC sent you the penalty notice and have a reasonable excuse for late filing. Once you submit the details of your appeal, HMRC will review your case and make a decision about it. 

Final thoughts 

Whenever it comes to your taxes, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and give yourself plenty of time before the deadline to complete your return. This way, if there are unexpected circumstances, you have a better chance at fixing the issues without accruing late-payment interest and penalties. If you have any questions about the above, please feel free to reach out to us here

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ben crampin

Partner

Ben’s been here pretty much since the get-go and, as such, has been instrumental in growing the business into what it is today.
 
He’s passionate about, in his words, ‘helping people and businesses that are just constantly being taken advantage of’ by providing affordable advice and support with an eye to ‘levelling the playing field’.
 
Ben looks forward to the day when automation will, once and for all, fumigate the fear and confusion caused by oppressive bureaucracy and strongly believes that ‘technology holds the solutions to the problems we’re trying to solve’.
 
Furthermore, he can see that technology will, in time, provide the scalability required to help a theoretically limitless number of SMEs survive and thrive against the odds.
Ben doesn’t think much of government agencies and he doesn’t suffer fools; two points that aren’t always mutually exclusive.